Blood Suckers

Giving is a necessary part of life. In fact, if you are reading this post, you have been given something, you were given life. From the moment you and I were conceived, we were given nourishment, time, and room to grow in our mother’s womb. This conceiving process of giving and eventually laboring occurs every day throughout the world. In fact, you may be very familiar with this fatigue, pain, love, sleepless nights, heartache, joy, cost, sacrificial giving and so much more that comes along with having a child.

I remember when I was pregnant with my firstborn, I would often say, “This kid is sucking my blood! He is taking EVERYTHING from me!” This statement wasn’t always a complaint, but a reckoned truth. I was GIVING my all, my everything, at every moment. There wasn’t a minute in which I wasn’t giving. Even in my sleep, I was providing nourishment for my son to grow and develop.

A  paradoxical analogy that has recently come to me is pastors give this same kind of constant nourishment. Being a pastor is like being pregnant ALL THE TIME! They are fatigued, experience pain, have sleepless nights, anticipate the future with both joy and hesitation, sacrificially give and so much more.  Each congregation is a growing body that continues to develop and receive from their pastor(s).

As I conclude this paradoxical analogy, my plea is simple. Although we are a body, a body of believers, we aren’t stuck in a womb. We are out, and we can give back! This month, October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and since pastors give their ALL, let’s give to them in return. Let’s appreciate our pastor(s)!

If you are in need of some ideas, here are a few:
1) Cash – green goes with everything!

2) Gift Cards – find out a place your pastor likes. Ask them! I know my pastor like Chic-fil-A.

3) Speaking of food who doesn’t like food?!? We all need to eat. Bring a meal or take them out for lunch, coffee, tea, etc.

4) Presents – again ask! If you are in a large congregation and you don’t personally know your pastor call his or her secretary. Maybe your pastor likes movies, archery, books, football, or collects small antique cars. Amazon is always there for you. You don’t have to go out of your way to get a present!

5) A card, phone call, text or thank you in person is a refreshing change from all the other Monday (or any day ending with y) emails regarding some complaint. Seriously pastors get more complaints than thank you’s. Give a thank you!

6) Team up with your home group or entire congregation to give your pastor a much-deserved vacation!

7) Last but not least, pray for your pastor! Prayer could be the greatest gift of all.

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Time Out for a Cry Out!

When my kids were little, they had the cutest time-out chair, ever!! I wish I were small enough to sit in it. It was a nice place, a safe place. My boys could re-gather their thoughts and behavior, and start again. Sometimes their cries would out last the timer, but I would give them the opportunity to stay in that nice, safe place until they gained their composure. Better said, I would NOT let them get out of their time-out, until they cried it all out!

As a mom, I have found myself in need of more time-outs than any other time in my life. Maybe even more than I had as a toddler? I don’t know, but recently I needed a time out. I needed a time out for a cry out!

Remembering back when my boys had a cry out, in a time-out, I never saw it as a gift. In fact, the scripture in Romans, which mentions kindness leading us to repentance, was certainly not in my mind, nor theirs. However, recently when I was alone, my time-out could only be described as a glorious gift.

Of course you might be thinking anytime in which moms are alone is a gift, and I would concur 100%! However, when we are particularly placed in a time-out, do we see it as a gift? Do we see that kindness leads to repentance? Do we see waiting leads to a promise?

As I think about my kid’s lovely blue time-out chair, I can vividly imagine myself rocking back and forth as if I were in a time-out, in their chair. It seems I’ve been rocking back and forth for a while. My back is beginning to hurt because there are no cushions. Even thought I’ve described the chair as nice and safe, it isn’t the most comfortable. It’s actually really hard. It’s just a little wooden rocking chair.

Now I begin to wonder, “How did I get here? How did I get in this time out? It seems like I have been in this chair FOREVER!! When is the timer going to go off? Did it go off already? Am I still complaining and nothing has changed since I first sat down?”IMG_0032

As I continue to think to myself, I say, “Okay, I am going to gain composure. I am going to get out of this time out!” Then all of a sudden the tears, the true tears start rolling. I confess, my envy, jealousy, discontentment, and all the stuff that has built up in my heart. I let God know I am scared. I didn’t intend or purposely do something wrong to get in time-out. Alternatively, it was just life. Many things aren’t fair, and just as kids, we get mad, we pout, and we end up in time-out.

As I discovered myself in time out, I realized God wasn’t harshly disciplining me. I just needed to gain composure. I was acting like a child complaining in a grocery store. I wanted all the pretty items on the shelf. I saw others getting items off the shelf, so why couldn’t I get something new?

As tears continued and my soul cried out, I got something new, I got mercy.

The next day, I woke up and when I looked at my phone I got a text that said, “Praying for you today: Lamentations 3:19-24 IMG_0033I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I said to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’”

Again, Jesus revealed I have something new, I have Christ’s compassion, His mercy, which never fails.

Although I will continue to see people have new items, (new careers, new homes, improved bodies, new levels of education) in which I may not get, I am promised to have mercy; and mercy unlike everything else I listed never fails, never breaks, and never ends.

He does not forget the cry of the humble. Psalm 9:12b