The Ghost of Christmas Past

It happened. AGAIN. The Ghost of Christmas Past came back to haunt me. AGAIN. Stress… turned into Sickness… turned into Frustration… turned into Anger… turned into Despair. They were all present, wrapped up in the middle of my living room on Christmas day… Uninvited, by the way. But they were settled in my heart, locked in to my thoughts and exposed in my actions. Sure. I told myself — (hashtag) ###ChooseJOY. Yea, right. It doesn’t work like that. I’d had the wind knocked out of me and #Joy was nowhere to be found… or chosen. I was so pissed. Another holiday ruined. The Ghost of Christmas past haunting me again. I could not #wish for my holidays to be merry and bright, more than I could hope for santas’ fat ass to come down our chimney. I try and ###ChooseJOY every year. And every year seems like something f*cks it all up. Sorry. Not sorry. These were my real. raw. transparent. truthful feelings. #Exposed.

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Thankfully, Christmas morning was lovely. Coffee and waffles, warmth and cuddles. Although I blew my nose most of the way thru the kids opening their gifts, it was wonderful. I took a few pictures, capturing moments of #happiness. We skyped with family far away, blowing kisses at the screen and sharing digital hugs. As we cleaned up from ‘Christmas’, and the mountains of kleenex I had made, the walls began to close in again and I had a feeling the Ghost of Christmas past might make a visit. #Seriously, can I make it thru one Christmas without some kind of a meltdown?! Yet that is exactly what I needed. An honest with God, good old fashion meltdown. The Ghost of Christmas past drove me to my knees and to prayer. I was at my own end and in the most vulnerable place I could be. #blessed. That last hashtag was #sarcasm. sorry, couldn’t help myself. #Truth.

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#Seriously. Enough with the hashtags. On with the story. After dinner, I unraveled. I went into my room… and bawled like a baby. I wept thru my emotions and laid my feelings out before Him. God spoke gently to my soul. There was no guilt or shame for my ridiculous actions. No ‘I-told-you-so’, ‘get over yo-sorry-self’ or judgement of my reasons for unravelling. He is a good good Father, full of kindness, mercy and patience for His daughter.

He whispered one word. Grace. 

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In a moment with tears spilled out, with honesty of heart, with one word, He spoke Grace over me. Grace over my feelings, Grace over my thoughts, Grace over my actions. Grace over my family. Grace over our Christmas.

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The Ghost was gone because Grace took its place. Our Christmas was redeemed. We enjoyed the rest of the evening and a renewing hike the next day. We can honestly say we had a MERRY CHRISTMAS. Gifts are being enjoyed, memories are being treasured, and the kids are loving fighting over their new bean bag chairs.

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Before the brawl broke out…

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Selah enjoying popping bubbles, mostly

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Thanks for reading friends 🙂 I know I’m not the only one who has been visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past. So fess up and feel free to share your stories. If you need Grace, there is an overflow awaiting you… God is always giving His gifts, even after the holidays 🙂 The end, for now… I’d love to hear from you!

In Him, Leslie

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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