Pastor Appreciation Month >>> O C T O B E R

Did you know October is ‘Pastor Appreciation Month’? Well. It is. And. Now you know. So, along with halloween and fall leaves turning colors, among other important things, October is a time to celebrate your local Pastor. However, the truth is – You might not care to know this information unless:

  1. You are a Pastor
  2. You like Pastors
  3. You like church

If you find yourself falling into one of the above 3 categories, please. Read On. Otherwise, this post means nothing to you.

We are Pastors. So we happen to be in-the-know that ‘Pastor Appreciation Month’ exists. We also met and started dating while working together in a Christian book store, when we were babies. Every October we sold thoughtful cards and fine gifts for church members to shower upon their Pastors, with love and care.

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Here we are (as babies) selling Jesus Junk to all of our Christian customers 🙂

Every October ‘Pastor Appreciation’ appears on the calendar, and we are reminded it’s our month to be appreciated! It can be an awkward month for us, as Pastors. What if we are not being appreciated this month? Do we remind our congregation? Don’t forget – set your clocks – this is the month we need to be appreciated! It’s a lot of pressure.

To be honest, it can be a weird month for Pastors, because:

  1. Pastors and church people are weird
  2. Pastors and church people are sensitive
  3. Pastors are uncomfortable with drawing attention to themselves….. although yes. there are some exceptions to this rule. But, really it’s like our job to draw attention to Jesus.

So Pastors have few options in October:

  1. Slip hints slyly to “remind” their congregation they need appreciating
  2. Pretend they don’t care and it won’t hurt their feelings if Pastor Appreciation month is forgotten altogether
  3. Avoid all eye contact with the congregation for the entire month

Pastors can develop anxiety from ‘Pastor Appreciation Month’. I’ve seen it happen. Well. not really, but still it might happen and we just don’t know about it. So for us, we don’t mention Pastor Appreciation Month. It feels strange to say “Hey. Hey you guys. Hey all you peeps who go to our church. Yeah. You. It’s time to appreciate us….. Or else.”

Or else what? I don’t know. It just sounds demanding.

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But we are not demanding people….. or Pastors. Of course, we appreciate being appreciated. But to devote a whole month to the cause…..? hmmm, whose idea was this, anyway? Probably a Pastors idea.

The truth is – October can be a stressful time for churches trying to show sincere appreciation for their Pastors. Seriously. There is an entire list of suggestions on how to appreciate your Pastor. I am thankful our church was not hysterically stressing out and having a panic attack to show us appreciation and love this month. At least I don’t think they were stressed… hmmm?

We were SO LOVED last Sunday by our beautiful congregation. We were overwhelmed by the appreciation they showered on us ~ Words of love and encouragement. An amazing slide show of pictures and memories captured in the past year, set to beautiful Worship. A coupon book ~ because they know we LOVE using coupons! Money for an overnight get-away and gift cards to our favorite coffee shop ~ Longbottom Coffee!!! All we could say was WOW. Seriously Wow. We were blown away by the love and appreciation they lavished upon us.

To our congregation:

  1. Thank you for loving us and showing your appreciation this month and year round.
  2. Thank you for sharing your lives with us.
  3. Thank you for knowing US and for being YOU!!!

So – boys and girls – make sure to appreciate your Pastors this month so they won’t be depressed (and next month, and the next)! And don’t stress yourself out over finding the perfect gift! That’s not helpful to anyone. But act fast >>> Today is the last Sunday in October, to appreciate your Pastor. And Hope Vineyard Church ~ thank you, thank you, thank you. We love you, and we know we are loved and appreciated this month and beyond!!!

To conclude this lovely post I wanted to share a blessing our church prayed over us for our Pastor Appreciation last Sunday ~

A blessing of what God is already doing in and through you as pastors of Hope Vineyard:
May you be blessed to be adventurous in spirit, and submitted to God’s voice.
May you be blessed to hold a grievous heart for the lost and broken, and faithfully preach God’s Truth.
May you be blessed to desire and accept collaboration and the voice of those trusted, but never sit aside your God-given authority to lead.
May you be blessed to desire God’s excellence, and not afraid to promote other’s ideas, leadership, and dreams.
May you be blessed to love your God with all your heart, soul, mind; serve His church all the days of your life; and love, serve, and care-taking your family well.

Thank you for reading… and sharing… and appreciating Pastors! In Him, Leslie

Pursuing Love

We’ve been given nineteen years of love days together. This Valentines day was our best. one. yet. We had a wonderful date of adoration and conversation… No, this date was not filled with fancy clothes, flowers, jewelry or a lavish dinner… none of those things, really. We did not give each other gifts… we gave each other ourselves. We knew ahead of time we would not exchange gifts, we rarely do. Our expectations of each other were met, not by wants of material things we do not need, but the ease of an evening simply being together.

Our kids were well taken care of, unbound by any time frame, thankful money was no worry. We set out for a hole-in-the-wall middle eastern restaurant… Adam had a coupon for, of course. I love my thrifty man 😉 We prefer our own home cooked food to most restaurants, and enjoy cooking together, so we typically have low expectations of food when we eat out… yet we always hold high expectations of the coffee shops we frequent. We’re weirdos, I know.

We meandered our way thru downtown Portland, enjoying moments, even those we spent in traffic. Parking spot scored, with coupon in hand, we strolled on over to the restaurant. The owners greeted us and we settled in at our table. Their place is tiny, with only 5 tables, bustling with local customers coming and going. After we ordered, we observed everyone in the space was speaking Arabic, and greeting the husband and wife owners as if they were their own parents. Even though we were the only Caucasians in the restaurant, and I was the only female, besides the owners wife, we felt at home.

As we waited on our food, we were both in awe of what God was orchestrating. We were in the middle of another country, in the middle of Portland, Oregon, we were on our mission field. After we finished our food, the owner asked us how everything was. We told him the truth – they were the best gyros we’ve ever had. He began sharing about the restaurant and how he has been running the business. As we talked more, he came and sat down with us and we talked more. He was hilarious, sharing stories of how he took over the restaurant a few years ago, and made many changes, including not accepting coupons anymore – darn! 😉 But we didn’t care about the coupon, we only cared about the fact that our Valentines date was now being spent with an old Arabic man sharing his life story…

As we continued the conversation, we asked him, “How can we pray for you? How can we pray for your business?” He opened up, and we began to share with him our walk with Jesus. Adam told him he was a Pastor. Their response – “A priest? You’re too young to be a priest!” He hears that a lot from people, and he’s been serving in ministry for 20 years. He shared his own convictions and how he sees his relationship God… how he honors Jesus, Moses and Allah. I asked him more about Jesus… “How do you see Jesus?” He did not see him as equal to God or as Lord, but a prophet. We agreed to disagree, and after talking more, Adam shared with him John 14:6 and Jesus’ claim to be the only way to the Father. We talked with him for an hour, He kept saying, “I love talking to you about religion. It makes me feel good!” Their business began to pick up again, and he had to start cooking again. We thanked him for the wonderful food, said our good-byes and practically floated out of the restaurant.

Our date was spent sharing the pursuing love of Jesus with this precious man. Afterwards, we went to a coffee shop and had the honor to meet and pray for 2 more people the Holy Spirit connected us with. Throughout the whole evening, as Adam and I worshipped and talked about God’s furious love for us, His love could not be contained within us. The overflow of His love poured out of us and onto those we came in touch with.

We had the best Valentines date… in fact, the best date of all time. The evening ended with a deeper understanding and revelation of God’s love for us and His love for others. We were rested, refreshed and renewed from the amazing moments we shared with each other and others we met. We are honored to be used by God and look forward to the next person Holy Spirit leads us to!

For Valentines and every day, I am a girl who longs for the presence of God in every moment. Flowers will die, clothing will become outdated, jewelry will fade, fancy dinners will go down the toilet… but God’s furious love is everlasting and is the only treasure worthy of my pursuing. 

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.” Isaiah 40:8

Do you know God’s love? His love changes everything. The pages are open to share your story… feel free to comment, ask for prayer, ask questions and share this blog. Our stories rage on… In Him, Leslie

Does God really care about my $4 Mocha?

This is the last of my 3 Panera stories… I know you are saddened, but no worries – I am sure we will go to Panera again soon, and some sort of Chronicle will emerge out of our visit there…

After visiting the Grands in Oklahoma over the holidays, we set out for our long drive home.  We made it 3 seconds down the road… and decided to turn around.  After packing all of our crap up the night before, we had planned to leave by 10am the next morning.  So, about 2 hours later, we were really leaving right on “Bab time”.  We always hope to get somewhere sooner than we ever do.  We have high expectations, but rarely meet them.  We are okay with this fact about ourselves.

So, 3 seconds down the road, we realize we are already hungry for lunch and that our original plan of leaving at 10am – 10:30am at the latest – left us on Bab time leaving at noon and we really should have eaten lunch before we left the Grands house.  We go back to their house, I knock on the door and enter the kitchen to find my mom saying, “I hope you didn’t come back for that coffee you left in our fridge…” She is saying this as she is pouring out $4 worth of peppermint mocha into her sink.  GAAAAHHHH!!!!!!  Crap!!!  As she is pouring, I am remembering that I had left my leftover $4 mocha in her fridge and I had planned to re-warm it and take it with me!

Originally, my plan was to come into their house, slap together a few pb&j’s and be on the road again.  But as I’m listening the $4 mocha drip down the drain, my plan is suddenly highjacked by a range of emotions.  I hold in my frustration with my loss as I  throw together the pb&j’s, holding back tears.  Stay calm, Leslie.  Calma-down-down.  It’s not that big of a deal, you can buy another coffee, I tell myself.  My mom didn’t know I had planned to keep the coffee – I had forgotten it on our original departure in the first place!  Had we not decided to go back for pb&j’s, I would have never known the mocha was tossed away like a meaningless piece of trash.  Don’t be upset with your mom, Leslie.  Keep your cool.  I tell my mom, “It’s no big deal, it’s not your fault, you didn’t know…”  But even as I am speaking the words, there is a part of me that is still upset.  I am not moving on…

A few more minutes down the road and P.A. decides he wants to stop by Taco Bueno.  Ugh!  I say, “Why can’t you just be okay with a pb&j?”  Seriously!  We really need to get on the road, get out of town, be done with this place already!  But P.A. is stubborn, so we stop at Taco Bueno.  The T.B. in my parents town is always busy.  It is located across the street from the church I grew up in, so my youth group friends and I were regulars there.  And it was always packed.  And today was no exception.

We drive up and the drive thru is about 15 cars long, so P.A. decides to “run in” and get the food “real quick” while me & the 3 wee Babs wait in the car. HA!  About 25 minutes later he returns with anxiety thinking I am going to deck him for making us stop at T.B. in the first place and for it taking so stinkin’ long to get our food.  But my response isn’t anger.  It is peace.

While P.A. was running into T.B. “real quick”, I had myself some quiet time with Jesus.  The wee Babs were content eating their pb&j’s I had slapped together earlier. The smallest Bab was now sleeping, and I was journaling to Jesus.  I was asking Him to take away the anger & disappointment I felt about “losing” my $4 mocha, the money wasted, the feelings I had toward my mom for accidentally throwing it away.  I didn’t want to be upset.  I didn’t want to feel those things (Romans 7:15).  I didn’t want to feel ridiculous.  There are so many things in life that produce emotion.  A $4 mocha shouldn’t be one of them. 

While P.A. was in T.B., God was doing a work in my heart and soul.  He was changing my thoughts.  He was settling a battle between my flesh & spirit.  He was replacing my anger with His Peace.  

So we set off on our journey.  We finally left town.  We made it to our half way stopping point – a Panera.  We went inside, got settled, ordered our food, went to the bathroom and saw poop on the toilet seat.  (btw, if you missed this chronicle, it was the one I posted a few days ago called “Poop and Panera”).  After getting our food – this time at  a much more timely rate (btw, if you missed this chronicle about our late food at Panera, read my recent post called “Back off old lady”), I realized Panera was prepping to close.  Oh no!  I’d better order my coffee for the rest of the evening’s journey.  I went up to the register and noticed they all said “closed”.  Oh no!…  But I wasn’t going to flip out.  I calmly asked the Panera worker if I could still order a peppermint mocha and I would pay cash, but didn’t need any change.  He said, “Sure.” He made me the best peppermint mocha I’ve ever had from Panera.  And he gave it to me.  For Free.

Whoa.  I was floored and thankful.  After the fit I threw earlier behind gritted teeth, a battle in my mind, and anger in my heart… God replaced my $4 mocha.  I felt like He was telling me, “I see and care about every detail of your life.  Even the menial ones.  Trust Me.”  What a gift.  

Some of you reading this might think, who cares about a $4 mocha?  Why would you get upset about that in the first place?  Why would you even take the time to write a blog post about it?… But what are the menial things you value?  a tv show?  maybe you get upset when your child is wanting your attention while you’re trying to watch?  a material possession you want?  maybe you get upset because you can’t have it?  or even time wasted on something you regret doing?

Many times our anger is exhibited as an underlying lack of Trust.  We lack Trusting God and that He knows what is best and He is taking care of our every need, the menial ones and the most important ones.  Matthew 6:25-34.  God is always teaching me how to trust in Him.  He really does care about my $4 mocha.