blackout

This poetic piece of awesomeness is a finally-finished post I began writing a month ago… Enjoy!

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A  month ago, we experienced our first Portland blackout. We were without power, internet and phones for 6 hours. <gasp, I know> We couldn’t watch the tele or cook or use the internet or make phone calls or go on Facebook or participate in any other nonsense we need electricity to take part in, and guess what…?

We survived. 

How, you might ask? 

We played outside soaking up our last bit of evening sunlight, we snuggled under blankets and read books by the light of a candle. We talked. We told silly stories. We laughed. We played games with the flashlights… and then we went to New Seasons for dinner.

We survived #Portlandblackout2014 by having fun and going to the grocery store. YES. You read that statement correctly. I said, we had fun going to the grocery store. 

We are experts at surviving blackouts.  

We’ve been thru several blackouts before. From Ohio to New York City. Remember #Northeastblackout2003? Yep. We survived it. We were living in NYC at the time and working at our church. When the city went dark, everything shut down… except for the people. People were still on the move. We responded by handing out water to thirsty tired travelers from the steps of our church in mid-town Manhattan. The city air was thick with August humidity and millions of people sweating their way thru the city. People were still on the move. They needed to get home, to pick up their kids. People had basic simple needs – like water.

The truth is – we are experts at enjoying simple things – such as going to the grocery store. In fact, the simpler, the better. If a task is too complex, detailed or complicated – forget it. Anxiety will overtake me and… the end. I will shut down. 

When there’s a blackout, life shuts down. There are fewer options and simplicity takes center stage. When there’s a blackout, I can only see what’s right in front of me. In the dark sky, I can see the moon and the stars. Oh, how I long to take joy in seeing the simplicity in front of me! Take it all in. Breathe in the wonder. Trace the stars. Stare at the moon. Soak in the sounds of my children. Slip into the arms of my husband.

I come alive when I ‘shut down’ and enjoy the simplicity of who is in front of me… My family. My friends. My neighbors…  The blackout forces life to slow down. To darken our ‘world view’ momentarily. To take hold of what we can see. The blackout changes our lens to purely see. An unfiltered view. To truly see. What is right in front of us.

In the blackout, life can shut down… And in the simplicity, we can thrive.

Do you thrive in simplicity? Please share! Our story rages on… In Him, Leslie

5 truths about being a Pastor…

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Being a Pastor is one of the most unique jobs in the world. Second only to being a parent -or third only to being in the military- I believe it is one of the most exhausting jobs in the world. However, this is my humble opinion. Take it or leave it. It is what it is. Unless you’ve been a Pastor – you don’t know what it’s like to be a Pastor. No offense.

1. Pastoring is unique… Being a Pastor is extremely unique. Because People. People are the client… the work base… the responsibility… A Pastors job is the people they pastor. Did you know that? Now you know. You’re welcome. You never know what to expect from people. Everyday will be different based on the people Pastors interact with. Every church service is different. From attendance to sound issues, to worship choices and preaching topics, ever church service is unique. No work day is the same. We like this about being a Pastors. It’s never dull.

2. There is no standard answer … For every spiritual or Biblical opinion, question, debate, ideology, understanding and expectation… there can be a myriad of answers and angles to find the answers. Following Christ is a life long journey of learning. Yes, ‘the Bible tells me so’. Jesus loves me. Relationship with Christ, is the one and only way to God the Father. However, for some of the questions people have, there are not always simple answers. Because People. People are complicated. There is no straight forward Pastoral policy and procedure handbook given out to every Pastor when they become a Pastor. The Holy Spirit has to be our guide. Because People… Complicated People. They need to know God’s love and God’s truth. We like this about being Pastors… teaching, counseling, learning and growing God’s Word. It’s never dull.

3. There is little time off… The pastors primary job is to Shepherd the people in their church… while dealing with a dysfunctional copy machine, budget decisions, preparing and planning for services, organizing outreaches and volunteers, overseeing staff, plunging clogs in the church toilet, evicting raccoons who’ve made their home in the church sanctuary… and that was just on Tuesday. There is always something to do… or someone to meet with. Work hours can vary greatly… from 50-80 hours a week. There is not always a set schedule. Many Pastors are bi-vocational working full-time while Pastoring. And time off is not always time off. In our time of Pastoring, people have decided to leave the church, and give us the news while we’re on family vacation. This is our least favorite part of Pastoring – when people leave the church. But, it is what it is. It happens. Even during our time off. There is never a dull moment, even on vacation. It’s always an adventure

4. Results are unpredictable… As a Pastor it is difficult to assess the results of your job. Jesus is your boss and your work day is never the same. Because People. The results of time serving as a Pastor will vary, depending on the people. Church growth, discipleship classes, small groups, mission trips, neighborhood outreaches, teaching and preaching, giving and tithing, financial responsibilities…  ‘Production results’ will always vary. Because People. Are people are growing and maturing in their walk with Christ? Truly knowing people are growing in Christ can be difficult to assess… by their fruits we can knowwe can make a judgement… but some would say we’re not supposed to judge one another. HA. Because People are people. Complicated people. Pastoring is always an adventure.

5. Pastors are not Superman… Pastors are 100% human. In case you weren’t sure. In case you had any doubts. Any supernatural abilities a Pastors has are solely gifts from God. They must fully rely on direction and strength 100% from God their Father, Jesus their Lord and Savior and Holy Spirit their guide. No one -not even other Pastors- can know exactly what another Pastor is going thru day to day, moment by moment… they’ll have an idea, but every church is unique to its own people. But God… He knows. He knows all, hears all, sees all, understands all. He sustains super-human Pastors in their supernatural calling. Pastoring is always an adventure. 

As we prepare to leave our current Pastoral role and move into a season of unknowns, we are grateful. We are grateful for the Pastoral journey we have walked. We are grateful for the growth we have experienced thus far… and the learning we have yet to do. We are grateful the journey has never been dull and always been an adventure. At times very difficult, but never dull. Most of all, we are grateful to serve our amazing Lord, to whom no one can compare. He walks with us, beside us, around us. He goes before us, He is our rear guard. We know Him, we see Him, we hear Him, and we trust Him… in everything that has been and will be.

Our story rages on… In Him, Leslie

3 things Christ followers need to stop doing… Please.

Hey. I’m a Christian. 

If you’re a Christ follower too, that’s cool. There are 3 things you need to stop doing (if you’re doing them). Please. For the love of God. And btw, if you’re not claiming to be a Christ follower – this is not for you. So keep on keepin’ on… More power to ya.

If you know someone who claims – ‘I’m a Christian’ – Do specific thoughts come to mind? Do you hold them to a higher moral standard? Do you have certain expectations of their actions? Do you consider if their lifestyle reflects their claim?

You Should.

You see, I have been living as a Christ follower as long as I can remember. I’ve been going to church since I was born 37 years ago. My parents took me until I could take myself, and I’ve never stopped taking myself to church. When I was 16 years old, the Lord called me into full time ministry.  When I was 18 years old, I began working full time in Christian circles ~ Mardel Christian bookstore, Women of Faith, New Life Clinics, and serving in youth, worship and Pastoral ministries in churches across the United States. So…being a Christ follower is my life. 

I am basically a professional Christian. But, being a Christian is more than “my job”.

What does that even mean? Am I super holy? Um no. It means I am super needy. 1) I am a sinner. 2) I am desperately in need of my relationship with Jesus Christ as my Savior and my Lord every single moment of everyday. . . waking or sleeping. . . all 24 hours. Every. Single. Day. 

As a professional Christian, I have spent much of my life in relationship with other Christ followers ~ all on their own journeys ~ thru acquaintance, co-workers, friendship, counseling, mentoring and discipling. Throughout my life, I’ve been the “religious friend”. I’ve overheard friends say, ‘don’t tell Leslie this … fill in the blank.’ I’ve made people uncomfortable…and still do, I suppose. Especially as a “Pastors wife and Worship Leader”. These “titles” automatically come with their own laundry list of expectations and pre-conceived notions people have of me and my life. I’m certainly not perfect and definitely not anyone’s Holy Spirit. However, I’ve always felt different… like a stranger in the world… because I was set apart. 

In my relationships with other Christians over the years, I’ve noticed a profound difference between those who live as they are, and those who merely say they are. I have been surprised by the distinction between who we proclaim to be with our lips, and how we actually live out our lives.

Last I checked, following Jesus is a full time gig. Like, He has expectations of those of us claiming to follow Him to look different than the culture we’re surrounded by in the world we live inSo, if we call ourselves Christ followers, we should stop doing these 3 things. Please. For the love of God. Otherwise, let’s agree to agree we might not actually be. . .living as Christ followers.

Stop. Seriously. Immediately. 

This may sound judgmental? I’ll let you be the judge…

1) Comparing sins – Justifying our own sin by comparing our sin to others sin.

If you are making excuses for your sin, based on a sin comparison chart you’ve drafted – Stop. Don’t do that anymore. Being a Christ follower means repentance – aware of your own sin and convicted by it. Don’t compare your sin to the person sitting next to you in the pew, or the person singing next to you in the choir.

Jesus began His ministry with a message of repentance. Repentance means change. Repentance requires a turning away from our sin, not justifying our sin. “…the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned. From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:16-17. (ESV)

2) Being hypocritical – living the Christian life with your mouth, but not your heart.

The “Phaducees” (Pharisees & Sadducees) had God on their lips but their hearts were far from Him.

“You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” Matthew 15: 7-9.

If you are a Christ follower, your actions, choices and decisions and should reflect it. Not merely your words. Jesus rebuked the Phaducees because they were pompous and religious in word and appearance, but deceived in their hearts.

3) Living selfishly – Hey Christian, it’s not all about you. The Christian life is one of great sacrifice.

We are called to lay our lives down for others. Our lives should look more like the life of a servant than that of a king. Washing feet rather than turning up our noses. Putting others above ourselves. We are blessed to be a blessing. Called to give ourselves away and lay our lives down.

“And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Mark 9:33-35.

It is not easy to be a Christ follower and it was never designed to be.

So this is a challenge to those who call themselves Christ followers. Attending church for 1 or 2 hours a week, paying tithes, singing in the choir or serving in the children’s ministry doesn’t automatically make anyone a Christ follower. If you’re comparing sins, living hypocritically or selfishly… Stop. Please. Thank you. Christians – we need to look different than this world we live in.

“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10.

And the story rages on. . . In Him, Leslie

Let the little children… interrupt.

Let the little children… interrupt. 

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For to such, belongs the Kingdom of Heaven.

The tug on your shirt… they brush against your leg, they press up close, practically up your butt… you know your child is there, waiting patiently to tell you the next chapter their imagination just unfolded… or they say to you, ‘Mommy, watch this! Did you see what I just did? …Mommy, are you watching? Mommy, did you hear me?’ but you are talking… maybe you are ready to listen, maybe not… maybe it’s an important conversation you are in… maybe not.

Growing up, maybe you heard from your parents or other adults, “Be quiet – don’t interrupt an adult while they’re speaking… or… kids should be seen – not heard.” At times, I’ve observed parents say to their children, “Don’t interrupt an adult while they’re speaking…” or something similar… and it struck me – I rarely say that to mine. (((gasp))) I must be a horrible mom.

Either my kids must have impecable manners – and never interrupt… or my kids must have no manners – and must not have any respect for adults.

Adults always have something wonderful to say… well, sometimes.  Adults are always full of wisdom… well, sometimes. Kids should always be ‘shooshed’ when an adult is speaking… well, sometimes. Kids should never interrupt an adult. Well… no.

I love talking about world issues and injustice. I love talking about Jesus or whatever you believe in… I’ll have a good healthy go-round about beliefs anytime, but I can grow bored in other adult conversation rather quickly… oh really, your vacuum broke and you had to decide which model of Dyson to purchase… oh wow, your shopping spree included five new cardigans you don’t need… oh no, your 4,000 square house is too small… that’s rough. oh I’m sorry, your refrigerator stopped working and your ice cream spoiled… It happens. At this point in adult conversations, I zone out.  There’s not much else to say…

I am an advocate for manners, and kids listening to their parents, not being rude, and not developing a habit of interrupting adults… however, at times our children need to be heard and we are too busy talking and not listening.

Children need to be heard. We need to give them a voice, and their voices need to be validated.

In Matthew 18:1-4 The disciples question Jesus, “‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ And calling to Him a child, He put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly I say to you (adults), unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'” Later in Matthew 19:13-15 Jesus speaks to a crowd of adults, “Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Adults, let’s be frank. We need to shut up sometimes. We need to stop talking… and listen… to each other, and to our children. I am guilty of being a parent who doesn’t listen well… and I’ve also grown as an adult, who is a better listener.

Adults, we need to listen now – when our children are saying things that don’t. even. make. sense. Telling us the stories unlocked from inside their imagination. They need to know we are listening to the nonsense they are saying and become engaged in the conversation with them. I long to hear their stories of roller skating dinosaurs, unicorn super heroes and all the details of the worm they found while digging in the yard and named “Wormy”… Engaging in these conversations are teachable moments.  In the freedom to tell stories, they also learn to listen to each others stories, and grow in their ability to communicate.

“I love my mom because she listens to me.” My oldest is a conversational vault. Only certain keys, turned at the right time, in the right place, unlock certain places in her heart. I never know when she will open up the treasure of her thoughts. I need to be ready listen to her, even when I’m tired, and she’s ready to have a deep discussion about poverty and the future of our planet an hour past her bedtime.

When we listen, we will hear some of the best wisdom and truth comes from the mouths of babes. Recently, our 4 year old was telling me, “I know why you like God… because He made me the way I am… and because He made our family… and that’s all I fink.” 🙂

Last week, the kids were discussing the ultra-serious life-altering decision of …what they will be when they grow up. Salem tells his sisters, “I’m gonna be whatever God calls me to be when I grow up.” Yep.

Are we always hearing spiritual wisdom out of the mouths of the babes at our house? Um…no.  We have our share of burping, farting and booger stories.  We have our share of long detailed stories about dora and boots, Legos and little boy, Barbie and Cupcake Diaries, and we have long drawn out times of drama, crying, yelling, wailing and gnashing of teeth … okay, not really that last part.

Listen between the crazy stories … even if you can’t understand what your 2 year old is saying.

Listen between the silliness … there is always room for more laughter! Old people need to laugh more.

Listen between the seriousness … you never know when the vault might be unlocked for the treasure to be heard.

***

What do you think? Are kids given too little or too much of a voice today?

Thanks for reading, sharing and joining us on this journey! In Him, Leslie

my dumb blog

Dear 5 faithful readers of my blog… or perhaps I should re-phrase… Dear mom,

I have had this dumb blog for a few years now. We’re going on 2.5 years of blog blissfulness, actually. Wow time really flies when you’re writing a dumb blog. I have changed the blog appearance, theme, pictures, layout and design several times. I grow bored quite easily. I started blogging on WordPress… then had a little blog affair over at google on blogger, and now I’m back. Fully committed to my marriage with WordPress. Although, I must be honest with you, I am not fully committed to the blog title – thebabsfam – but that will be another dumb blog for another time.

Now, for clarification purposes, let me clarify I do not think my blog is really dumb, just sorta dumb. Much of the time – okay ALL of the time – I second guess what I am writing / have written, therefore leading me to the conclusion that what I have written is mostly dumb. Although…, the fact that I typically write between the hours of 1 and 2am -after several rounds of coffee and sugary cinnamon coated monkey bread- could perhaps, possibly, maybe just maaaaybe, have a slight impact on my second guessing what I’ve written. Here is what typically happens: I write something amazing at 1am, publish at 2am, and wake up at 7am with a double minded hazy hangover, feeling like everything I wrote was dumb…or at least sorta dumb.  If I sound like I’m upset about my dumb blog – the big elephant on the internet would be … why do I keep writing?

I have over 125 drafted blogs in my ‘draft box’. And within those drafted… yet to be published blogs… I have drafts within the drafts… all Half written. Stories that constantly swirl inside my brain just waiting for a chance to explode on paper, or rather, onto the internet. Stories that taunt me from the deep desire within me to write. them. out. Stories God placed within my heart soul and mind from the time I was born… I learned how to write around age 4.5, right mom? I’m pretty certain I have been writing for 32 years… but the internet can be a dark, scary place to publish your stories… why do I keep writing?

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a few of my journals…

I am a writer. It is a truth nestled deep within my bones. And although I will still second guess my dumb blog, I can not help but write. I am a writerIt is a truth nestled deep within many pagesI have volumes of journals filled with stories to tell. Stories you 5 faithful readers, need to know! Stories my mom already knows! Stories of God -me- and God. Everything I write begins -and ends- with Him. My life and all of my stories, published, drafted and half written, begin and end with Him. Thankfully, God still uses me, even when I write dumb blogs.

So this dumb blog is full. honest. disclosure. Much of the time, I will second guess what I publish, but I have been trying to live a #NoRegretNewYear …That sounds dumb. What does that even mean? It means, I don’t care if it’s already halfway thru the month of April, I am living the rest of this year with #NoRegrets. God has written the stories of my life I desire to write. He is in charge of my life… therefore, He should be in charge of my blog, even when I feel like it’s dumb… I know my dumb blog has a purpose.

I am grateful to live my life with minimal regrets. I am grateful to have the opportunity to write a dumb blog. I am grateful for the physical ability to type, for the computer I type on, WordPress and the internet I publish on… and most importantly – I am grateful to God for the stories He gives me.  It is never too late to be grateful. And, It is never to late to start writing and publishing a blog… even if you feel like it is a dumb blog.

Thanks for reading my dumb blog! In Him ~ Leslie