Monday, July 16, 2012

They Got It Right

I don't even remember the last time I posted . . . it's been waaaaaay too long.  And, as per my usual modus operandi, I could declare open-season on myself and start firing away--silently in my head and out-loud in print. And then, along with being a writing slacker, I could add to my list of self-deprecation my latest short-comings in my quest to get healthy (I didn't make it to the pool to exercise--oh, yeah, the pool's closed today, so, okay, I'm off the hook for that one--but I did have half a slice of sugar-filled key lime pie at lunch, and I probably didn't get in the water that I should have); I also got busy and forgot to put in that load of laundry I promised myself I would; I still haven't cleaned the master bathroom . . .  I could get on a real roll here, but, nope, I just can't because . . . well, because I got the coolest E-mails today, and they just kind of put things into perspective for me.

My babies--Baby Daughter and her Sailor-Man (a.k.a. "Popeye")--are now in their new home in Colorado and finally ready to look for a church home. Truth be told, Baby Daughter is pretty desperate to find one.  She's miserably lonely, tired from juggling physical therapy for chronic back problems and working two jobs, fussing too much with Popeye because they're both stressed over jobs and future plans and all that stuff that newly-weds still in the adjustment period sometimes stress over, and she flat-out said this morning, "Mama, I am needin' me some Jesus people!" 

After weeks of working Sundays, she finally has the weekend off, and she's ready to be in church somewhere this Sunday, even if it means venturing out on her own because now Popeye has to work on Sunday. (Proof of her desperation 'cause this is a child who, as far as I know, has never gone to church by herself a day in her life!  Truly, Papa-God IS "doing a new thing" here!)

Being the full-service mom that I am (okay, I do some things right), I researched some churches in her area and narrowed the choices down to three fellowships that seemed pretty solid theologically, offered small-group Bible study, and celebrated with the kind of contemporary worship music I know Baby Daughter and Popeye like.  Then. I. Sent. Each. Church. A. Letter. Of. Interest.

Yup.  I did.

Told 'em all about Baby Daughter and Popeye and their needs (other young-married twenty- and thirty-somethings to fellowship with), and then kind of asked them if they thought they thought they'd be a good fit for my little couple.

Now I know that Mondays are usually days off for the pastoral staff of most churches, so I wasn't real sure when I'd hear anything.  But lo' and behold, within an hour of hitting the send button, I got an E-mail from an elder in one of the churches.  A very sweet E-mail telling me a little more about the folks themselves at the church, and assuring me that this brother would be on the lookout for my babies should they decide to visit.

I was impressed.

And then, this evening, I got a second E-mail--an E-mail from another member of that same church.

This time I was literally moved to tears by the genuine interest she showed in my children--interest and concern and an eagerness to be of any help she could in making their adjustment to a new area easier.  All of this after sharing with me her love for her church.  (I couldn't help but grin when, while listing its other attributes, she wrote, "The people in this church actually like each other!")

It didn't matter anymore what I might have let slide right off my to-do list earlier in the day--I had done one really, really important thing:  I had reached out to the body of Christ--nameless-, faceless-at-the-time brothers and sisters, and they had reached back. 

Trust me, I, as quickly as anyone else, could make you a list of things I think the American church does wrong on any given day--areas where we fail, things we focus on but shouldn't and things we should focus on but don't.  But on this day, at that moment, all I could think of was that one precious body of believers who got it right.

A pastor who read my words and then shared my concerns with just the right brother and sister whom he obviously knew would also see through my words right into my heart and then take the time to let me know that, should they walk through the doors of their church, my children would be their children.

Thank you, Church.

Grins and blessings,


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Love you some guinea pig!

Seabrook's famous Tookies on Hwy 146

Okay, I think I've got this 7 thing figured out . . . ya'll are wanting Ann and me to be the guinea pigs swine piglets ALRIGHT!--GUINEA PIGS (I just can't think of an cuter word replacement) on this thing.  If we survive, ya'll just might try it, right?  Yeah, I thought so.  Well, I, for one --can't speak for Ann today--am happy to be your guinea pig.  (Guinea piggy?--now, that's kinda cute, isn't it?)

Happy, but truth be told, a little scared, too.  Okay, a LOT scared. You know that Month 1 is the fast from excess food.  That may not have been the biggest deal for Jen Hatmaker (author of 7), but for moi, well, let's just say that there's a reason I was trying to come up with something cuter than pig.  (Although, now that I think about it, a pig does weigh less than a hog . . . yep, let's go with pig.  I can be happy with that.)

I am a voluptuous woman (try looking up the word zofitg), and I didn't get this way by eating healthy whole-grains, salads, and lean meats all my life.  No, I did the old fashioned way--I ate like a . . . well, you know.  

I've struggled with gluttony all of my life (even when I was thin--like a 100 years ago--so this is a rEEEEally  old  problem), and to say that the food thing is going to be a challenge is probably the understatement of the year.  (The decade.  Maybe the millenium. )  Yes, I do love me some groceries.  And restaurants.  And . . . well, yeah, I love it ALL.

I know I haven't posted on a regular basis so far this year (and, yes, I know, even much last year), but I do plan to use this blog as my 7 journal, so I can vent when I think I'm losing my mind share my spiritual insights with you as you check on my progress with this experimental "mutiny against excess" (good ol' Jen) throughout the next seven months.

Here's what I decided about my food choices.  (Jen chose seven foods, but, remember, she stresses that hers don't have to be ours--her book isn't meant to provide a legalistic template. I'm pretty much going the way of Bible Dude, who started his 7 project last month.)  My menu for the month will consist of the following:

       BREAKFAST:     Eggs and toast
     LUNCH:            Beans and brown rice, a small portion of fruit
     DINNER:              Small portion of plain meat and a vegetable

And since I start this project tomorrow, I'm off now to meet my just-returned-from-Senegal sister-friend for a hamburger and onion rings at Tookies.  (I shall refrain from calling it the Last Supper.)

Grins and fear excitement!

Friday, March 30, 2012


This post was supposed to show up here a couple of weeks ago, but somehow in one of my goofier, unfocused moments (shocked, aren't you), I posted it to my other blog (the place where I share my obsession with much less important topics like arranging my thrift-store plates to perfection on my foyer wall and finding the perfect leather recliner for cheap off Craigslist).  

So sorry for the delay! 

About two weeks ago I wrote:

Has anybody else out there ever looked around at all the activity and stuff that we crowd our lives with--including inside the church walls--and thought, "there's gotta be more to this following-Jesus life than just entertaining and blessing ourselves and working so hard to appear spiritual"?  Jen Hatmaker asked the same thing, came up with an experiment aimed at rebelling against, and repenting of, all of that excess, and then she wrote about it. The result is an incredible little book called 7: An experimental mutiny against excess

Here's a response from one real-live, regular-person reader and Amazon customer Christine Hoover: 

You must read this book! Here's what it's about: Jen (the author) did an experiment in which each month for 7 months, she and sometimes her entire family fasted in an area she felt they were excessive in: media, stress, possessions, shopping, food, clothes, and waste. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that sounds all preachy and super-spiritual and hard and you don't want to read it. Thankfully, it's the complete opposite. It is laugh-out-loud hilarious, totally real-life, 100% empowering, and 0% guilt-inducing.

You must go immediately to purchase this book and devour it whole. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Do not stop to brush your teeth or feed your children. While you're out, buy Depends to wear because you will pee yourself while reading from laughing so hard.

Some other suggestions of how to read this book:
1) Keep a handy while you're reading to write down notes and thoughts because ideas and action points will come to you like nobody's business.  2) Do not read this book right before you go to bed because you will not be able to sleep due to the millions of thoughts running around in your brain.

Read this book with your girlfriends!

Well, [this is Pamm back], that's exactly what Ann Hutchison and I are proposing--reading the book and then, with a group of friends, accepting the 7 Challenge. (We're calling ourselves "7-Sisters"--not seven, like the number--7 like the book title.)  No one has to do the project exactly the way Jen did it--she, herself, stresses that she didn't write the book to be used as a template but as more of a catalyst, "a fast: an intentional reduction, a deliberate abstinence to summon God's movement in my life" (Jen). 

The point is to do the challenge in some way that will ultimately result in a lifestyle that focuses on those things that Jesus taught that so many of us American Jesus-followers ignore in favor of maintaining our comfort zones--things like loving our neighbors as much as we love ourselves (and remember those Jesus pointed out as our neighbors? Not just those who look like us, smell like us, and vote like us. Ouch.) . . . things like taking care of orphans and widows (the ignored, the divorced, the disenfranchised), speaking for those who have no voice, seeking justice for the oppressed, feeding the hungry, comforting the sick, visiting those in prison . . . 

Ann and I have already read the book, and, yeah, it's hilarious in parts (reading Jen is, on some pages, like listening to your "funnest," oldest bff catch you up on her life over a cup of coffee with French vanilla creamer and chocolate bon-bons), but just when you're about to snort said coffee out your nostrils, she zings you.  With scripture, no less. It's not for the faint of heart, peeps. 

But it's what this heart needed to hear. And it's the kind of truth that I can't just hear and then walk away from. I have to respond in some way.  Ann felt the same way; she felt compelled to do something  (although she did say that when she finished the book, she didn't know whether to thank me or to hurt me for recommending it).

Precisely because it's not for the faint of heart, Ann and I decided to partner-up to do our own 7 project. We'll each tweek Jen's ideas to fit into our individual lives (as I said, something Jen encourages), but we WILL follow her pattern for the seven monthly focuses--Month 1, food; Month 2, clothing; etc.--until we've completed each of the seven monthly focuses.  

We plan on starting April 1 (no, it's not a joke), almost two weeks away--plenty of time for some of you brave souls out there to get the book, read it, and then pray about joining us on this adventure. (Ann devoured the book in two days.)  [EEKS!  In now-real time, the project for Ann and me starts in two DAYS--on this Sunday--not two WEEKS!  But if you decided to join us, jump in at ANY time 'cause no matter where you are, we'll be glad to encourage you and hear your thoughts.]

If you do read the book, we'd LOVE to hear from you, whether you feel led to join us in the project or to just cheer us on.  Regardless of what you chose to do, we welcome your comments, your insight, your questions. and suggestions. But at least read the book (and then, you, too, can thank me or fantacize about hurting me).  I don't believe you will ever think the same way again. About anything.  

Go on. Read it. I double-dog dare you.  And then share.  SHARE! (Seriously, I really do want to hear your thoughts.)



PS  Ann and I figured that if we start in April, we will complete the final month in October, just before the holiday season begins. Would you believe that the last month calls for a fast from             S-T-R-E-S-S? Yeah, I think that's pretty much what I would call ordained.  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Snatchin' and Grabbin': Sometimes It's a Good Thing

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh (for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds), casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ . . . "

Paul writes, “ . . . we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. . . “ Good preachin’ and hard livin’ . . . and lately, harder on most mornings than usual.

One morning last week the entire thought actually slipped out before I could grab it:  I do not want to go to work.  I do not want to do this.

The scary thing was that I meant it.  At least at that moment. Yep, at that moment, I meant it with all my heart. I wanted to wave a magic wand and magically poof  myself into Cinderella. (That particular morning I might have even enjoyed cleaning the fireplace.)

No, that’s not right—the Cinderella part, I mean—I think what I really wanted was to maybe be the fluffy voluptuous fairy godmother who gets to tap others with the magic wand while she’s flitting and floating around to wherever she sees something or someone needing her own special touch.  (Stopping ever so often, of course, not only to enchantingly transform the lives of the downtrodden, but to decorate their homes, as well.)

But, the cool thing about being a 50-Plus Woman is that I’ve lived long enough to get what Paul means in verse 5: “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ . . . “

You see, I know that Papa has called me to this place that I sometimes call work and on other days the School House.  I know that this is my Macedonia (at least for now).  And, oh, brothers and sistas, how dangerous it would be for me to let my imaginations run wild until they become strongholds on those mornings when it is hard to leave the Casita and my projects and my journaling and my computer screen and my . . . well, you get the idea.

It is in those moments that my flesh-wants could so easily become the high things that I could then so naturally shift to exalting against the knowledge of God.  

Thank God—literally!—that the Spirit within me rebels against that and refuses to collaborate with my flesh, instead, choosing to snatch up that thought, take it back into custody, and place it under the lordship of Jesus that the rest of me might follow in obedience.  (I’m tellin’ you, Dog the Bounty Hunter ain’t got nothin’ on the Holy Spirit when it comes to snatchin’ up!)

I was called to Africa a couple of times.  And for a while to the exotic streets of Pasadena.  But these days, Papa has called me mostly to Seabrook. And, so help me God, I will be obedient. 

Even on mornings when my imagination longs to take me elsewhere.

What about you?  Do you ever struggle with where Papa has placed you?  With the ministry He’s given you?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Still grinning, still snatchin’,


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sweat Equity

St. Michael says I have absolutely no concept of time.  (And, in turn, I have been known to refer to him as the Human Alarm Clock.) I started a project in our tiny little kitchen Saturday morning that I was positive I could finish by late afternoon or early evening.  And I did finish . . . about one-third of it.

The thing is, what I thought of as a little change (with big results) took a lot longer than I thought it would.  (I think I hear St. Michael guffawing in the background.) And it was a little bit harder. In fact, it's a good thing that the completed one-third looks soooooo yummy 'cause, otherwise, I'd be seriously tempted to leave everything else just like it is.

But when I look at the results of all that work -- even though it was nastier, harder, and more time-consuming than I had imagined it would be -- I can't help but admit that it was worth it.  And after a short break (if that's what you can call spending the week teaching my sixth- and seventh-grade babies), I'll ready to put on my sandin', paintin', stainin' clothes and go at it again.

Spiritual change has been like that for me, too, sometimes.

There are times when I've been tempted to say, Papa, let's just stop right here.  I'm too tired and too hurt, and this is all just to plain messy to go on any further. Please, PLEASE, can't You just leave me here?

Those are the moments that He's stopped me, taken me by the shoulders, and refocused me long enough for me to look back with Him at the work we've already done together and remember His pronouncement that it is good.  And I do have to admit that our finished product--no matter how small a part of the whole--is good.

After a few more deep breaths, I feel the want-to return, and I know that I will expend myself, I will invest my resources, I will allow myself to experience pain--all for that reason, that just as His creative work was in the beginning, it is now: It is good.

And thus it is worth whatever the cost.

Excuse me while I change into my keep-on-keepin'-on clothes . . . 

Grins and a little sweat,