Saturday, December 16, 2006

We GET to do this!!!






II Timothy 1:6 (msg) And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn't want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible.

Tonight we went to the Ruiz family's house for dinner and enjoyed a great Spanish meal. Isa made salad, roast pork, yellow rice, and cheesecake. So good!! The conversation and time spent together was even better. What wonderful people. Savanna decided to stay the night with Chelsea, so it was just the guys and I coming home. The pictures above are of Chelsea and Savanna when Chelsea spent the night a few weeks ago and then Larry took the girls to the Ybor Christmas parade. The city had actually brought in snow for the parade and then they had ice skating. They had so much fun!!!

You know, some pastors don't spend very much time with their people, and I have never understood why. I "GET" to do this! How incredible. It is my privilege to do life with our church family. I do not consider it a drudgery to spend time...to connect...to do life. Why some pastors totally isolate themselves (even amidst the hurts that come - I know them all too well) I don't understand. Despite the occasional hurts, to be isolated hurts even more. To join our families together for sharing and fellowship is one of the great loves of my life and I can't understand how any minister thinks they can build a church without it, unless their goal is just to draw a crowd, but not grow a family of believers. I've seen those people who simply grow crowds and not families and it seems years later something comes crashing down. Either the pastor, the church or both end up in disaster some way. That's because we're to build a body of believers, a household of faith - not simply a crowd. I really do think that's possible no matter how big you get.

I have noticed over the years that so many ministers and spouses have this idea of "the church" being the enemy and something they have to separate from their family, They fight to make sure "the church" doesn't take over their lives. So many try to put "church time" and "family time" in a box, but quite frankly I don't think the most successful people do that because priorities quite frankly depend on what's going on. I've had some very wise people tell me that who have been in this thing for many decades and have successful marriages, families, and churches. 

Things don't just fit into neat little boxes...you have to go with the leading of the Lord every day. You hear about these people with priority lists - you know, like 1) God 2) Family 3) Church or 3) work and 4) church, but things don't always work by lists. Sometimes "life" happens. Stuff happens I don't expect with the kids, with the church, with anything and everything. There are times that are definitely ordained with you to be with your partner, your kids, or church people exclusively, and there are other times there is a blending of things. I think the blended lifestyle is the one we have embraced the most. 

Dr. Lee once said he raised his family "in the ministry" and he and Sis. Lee included their kids on everything they ever did in ministry because as he says "the ministry is all consuming...so involve your family in it and you'll end up spending a lot of time together..." That's been more of the route we have taken - they have been raised in the house of the Lord, not observing us, but DOING the work of the Lord along with us. I think it's great for kids to see their parents enjoying the house of the Lord, and God's people. Kids do more of what you DO than what you SAY anyway. Mine have literally been raised in the church. We even had cribs for them there when they were little. (Yes, really!)

Many families talk about how they have to go to great lengths to get their teens/kids to church...how there is fighting and arguing, and they have to force them to go. Amazingly, in 17 years of having kids Larry and I have never had that problem. They have never asked if they had to go, or bellyached about it. Most of the time they have a lot of ministry responsibilities to do that they know have to be fulfilled and people are counting on them to do them. They are either scheduled to play an instrument, run the powerpoint, do kids church or something. Rarely are my kids just sitting. They also tend to really enjoy the people of the church, probably because Larry and I have always enjoyed the people of the church. Even when we have had problems over the years and certain individuals have been an issue (a negative one) there has always been the majority of the family that has been enjoyable, and that we've continued to not only do ministry with, but do life with in general. Rarely have we not had a houseful even on holidays. Our kids are used to the fact that 50 people may be over at any given time. And they like that.

Like I said, I can't imagine why pastors don't want to spend time with their people. I enjoy some solitude on my day off, and I always need a few hours to myself each week and a date with Larry. BUT...aside from that, Larry and I and the kids like to connect with as many people as possible. It's our privilege, our honor, a miraculous GIFT the Lord has given us.

Tonight while at the Ruiz's I noticed that they have our family picture on their Christmas tree.  When I walk into our people's homes and I see things like that it makes me realize we truly are "family" and in each other's hearts not just on Sundays or Wednesdays, but all throughout the week.

What a joy to not only be the parents of three natural children here on earth, but to be the spiritual parents of a wonderful church family. There is no greater honor. So why don't some people "get" that they don't HAVE to do this, they GET to do this? Wow, I never lose the wonder, even with some crazy stuff happening over the years.

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