Thursday, July 31, 2014

Five Lessons My Parents Taught Me

I have talked a lot about my father in law since I started this blog a year ago.  He made a huge impact on my life and I needed to write in order to navigate the waters of grief as he was dying.

Today,  I want to talk about two others that who have made the most impact on my life - my mom and dad.  I have been one of those fortunate and very blessed people who had amazing parents and then married into great in laws.

As I contemplated what I wanted to write today I decided to talk about five marks they indelibly left on my life as they raised me.  There are so many more that I am sure I will talk about later but for today,  I will talk about these.

 1.  Never leave your passion.   My parents sacrificed a lot for their passions.  They could have had more money.  They could have led a more comfortable, a safer life.  But they never settled for less than the real genuine call that they had on their life.  They never compromised.  They have always been as solid as rocks sitting on the mountainside. 

2.  Never stop giving.   My mom and dad are the biggest givers that you will ever meet.  No matter how much money that we had or didn't have as I was growing up,  my dad NEVER missed giving to the church his tithe.  At one time in my life,  that bugged me.  But now, as I look back on it,  he taught me a principle that is carved in my soul - you can't outgive God.  Always give to God because he will take care of you, he will see that you are provided for and he will see you through.  It isn't only God that Mom and Dad gave to.   They were always quick to give of their time, their food and their money to family and those they loved.
3.  Never stop praying, believing, hoping.   I owe my passion to my parents.  No matter what our lives were going through, no matter where our journey led, they have never given up on the values and beliefs that they hold so dear.  If they believed it, they were propelled by an incredible passion to go forward against all odds. 

4.  Never give up on each other.   My mom and dad have had their share of disagreements and arguments.  Sixty years together shows a tenacity, a fierce loyalty even in the face of shaky ground all around.  Even as all their peers were separating, they found ways to work it out.  Sixty years together is something to truly celebrate!

5.  Never, never give up.    I think my dad’s favourite phrase in Japan was “gambate” (I am sure that I am spelling that wrong).  What it means is “keep on keeping on.”  There were literally seasons in their lives when they planted one foot in front of the other day after day, week after week, because that was the only option.  Keep going, keep believing, keep making the right choices, keep walking - one foot and then the next.  I applaud solidity like that.  It has taught me to do the same in my life when everything in me wanted to give up and walk away.

I am forever grateful to my parents for their love, for believing in me, for investing in me and for walking with me.  I know that this is a day late but  Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A hero remembered

Today would have been my father in law's 76th birthday.  His fierce loyalty and compassion - first to
his family and then to his God was undeniably his greatest strength and an amazing inspiration to thousands around the world.  He was man small in stature but a giant in spirit.  

I miss him so much and love him so very much.  Everyday. 

Today I am going to do something that I have never done before on my blog.  I have a guest blogger.  My 8yr old son who understands deeply the healing and transformation that comes from writing from the heart, has asked if he can write a post on my blog  about a man that had a deep impact on his life - his Grandad.  

So my friends,  meet my son,  Sean Hazell. 

sean here.
This is about my granddad, aka poppa keith
Memories:  me and him were in safeway and got donots . sorry if my spelling is wrong . any way it was sad when he died. i wish that he could stay longer even tho he was 75.  but it was for a good propose so i would be a man of god. Thats what his death made me want to do.  his death made me so sad I rely wanted to be a man of God.

i loved him.  today I’m bringing flowers to his grave.

  we don't know if it was the infection or the cancer that made him die.

anether memory:  he always went to church and i think i listened to him always. he always prayed relly loud and I think his unknown language passed to me.

when he died and i held his hand i prayed for him to stay alive the next day.

 this is anether memory:  when i was in the hospital he said god bless you, my son.  When he said that, he made me have more of God’s presence in me.   It changed me a lot.

he was a very great man and i think if he didn't have any those things
[illnesses] he would still be alive today.

peace out.

I miss him.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Our Mini Vacations

Last summer was a rough summer.  My father in law was dying and that was taking most of our days and most of our attention.  We didn’t go away.   We stayed close to home.  We didn’t have a vacation.   We didn’t go to the zoo or go camping or go to Waterton or any of those things that we normally do in the summer.  We didn’t even go swimming or to the water park.  Most of our days were spent at the hospital and a lot of Sean's (my eight year old son)  days were spent with friends playing at their houses.  The summer went by swiftly.  In fact,  when summer was over,  I sort of blinked my eyes and said,  “I didn’t even have time to find my sunglasses.”
I felt like I didn't see Sean that much.  It felt like the time I had with him was fleeting and rushed and lined with deep feelings of sorrow and grief.  It didn’t feel so right.  But we started something that was perfect.  We had “mini vacations.”  I am pretty sure that he penned the phrase.   Sean and I were faithful to take our mini vacations.  And this is what they were.  I had blank canvasses and everyday,  when we had five or ten minutes or sometimes three,  we would splash color on them. We would use bubble wrap and kleenex and mesh, and bottle caps.  We used sponges, cups and pieces of wood to put different textures on the canvas.  And yes,  we used paint brushes.    It was just the escape we needed - it was the vacation we could afford and it was so so so good. 

We weren’t painting anything in particular and didn’t have a plan when we started  - they were truly abstract - works of the heart.   We both looked so forward to running downstairs where my painting is and painting some pretty colors.    This is how they turned out.   I think that they are lovely. 
This summer,  as soon as the last day of school came,  he asked me,  “When are we going to start our canvasses?”  You see, to him,  this wasn’t less of  a vacation than camping was.  It was every bit as good as a real vacation  because he was spending time with me.  He had my undivided attention.   He wasn’t sacrificing.  I asked him if he wanted to do another one this summer and he exclaimed,  “I think we should do one every year - make it our tradition!!”  

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I am Enough

When my husband and I were dating in Bible College,  we began to  talk about the future a lot.  We talked about our dreams,  our goals, our thoughts, our destiny - as most do when they start getting serious with each other.  We had similar views on what we thought our destiny and our calling in life would be. 

I remember getting together with him in the school cafeteria one day over a cup of coffee.  He always tried to get me to drink coffee without cream and sugar but he never succeeded.   I remember saying that I knew that I would travel one day,  I knew that I would go to the nations and that I would speak and that I would go on mission trips and that I would always be in ministry in some sort of way.  But one thing I would NEVER do is Pastor a church.   He agreed emphatically.  That was our way of making a “decision” about our future without actually talking about it in the sense that it was “our” future.  I am pretty sure that I reminded him of that when we got engaged,  although he doesn’t remember that conversation.  (Selective memory I am sure.)

Many years later,  I was sitting with Jeremy in the living room,  and he told me of his longing to start a church.  He wanted me to pray about it too.  I looked at him.  This wasn't our "plan."  This wasn't what we had discussed.  We both knew that starting a church was hard and painful and sometimes devastating.  I wasn't sure I was up for the task.   But most of all  I  just remember feeling deep deep insecurity.

It’s easy to travel and speak into people’s lives when they don’t see you day to day.  It’s easy and it’s fun.  It’s easy to encourage other pastors and leadership to keep going, don’t give up.  It’s easy to sow into other places and reap instant rewards without having to pick the weeds in between the processes.  I had had experience with planting churches and I have to tell you that they weren’t my fondest memories. 

I am not your typical pastor.  I am not musical, although I love to sing and worship with all my heart.  I don’t play the piano or any instrument, so I don’t lead songs which is a prerequisite of any pastor,  I am sure.  I am not a super dynamic person - when I speak,  I just really share from my heart.  Most of the time,  I cry a little,  even if I try not to.   I am not thin.  Pastor’s wives should always be thin.  And wear very high heels and lots of make up.  And be very polished. And dynamic and authoritative.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t hate myself.  In fact,  I am quite a confident person naturally.  I feel quite secure in who I am.   I just don’t think that I “fit” into that "Pastor's wife"  category.  I have had several talks with God about that.   I want to get behind “those” people, roll up my sleeves and be  150% supportive.  I just don’t want to BE those people.  At least,  I didn’t.

Until one day,  I felt the Lord ask me something.  He asked me if I loved people.  And I have to tell you - my greatest strength is loving people.  In fact, getting involved in peoples lives,  running along beside them,  holding their hand while they are going through a difficult time,  I have done that since I was 8.  No kidding.  That is when I feel most alive.  That is when I feel most fulfillment - when I am helping others in some form or another.  I am not afraid to get my hands dirty right up to my elbows; to swim the stormy waters with them.

 I felt the Lord direct me to the story in the Bible where he used the boys lunch to feed 5000+ people.  Most of us know the story well.

Jesus had been talking to a group of people all day.  When it was time to eat,  he turned to the disciples and told them to find the large group of people something to eat.  Talk about hosting!!  That is one big party to feed!  There were more than 5000 people there and the disciples had really no idea what they were going to do but they decided to humor Jesus anyways and ask around.  All they found was a little boy who had five loaves and two fishes.  That's it.  I wonder if they kind of jokingly brought it to Jesus?  Or maybe they were kind of scared to bring it to him knowing that there was only one person who was willing to give up his lunch.  At any rate,  however they felt,  they were not prepared in their hearts for what was to happen next.   Somehow, someway, Jesus blessed the food and fed everyone!!   Well,  when you think about it.  Jesus can do anything so of course that could happen.  He could have commanded the stones nearby to turn into food.  But actually he wanted to use a little boy's lunch. 

 I realized something when I read that. I didn’t need to be the "typical" pastor.  I didn’t need to be any certain way actually.  All I needed was to be willing to give what I had.  Because no matter what I did,  what I had,  who I was - it wasn’t enough without God.  But with God,  I was enough.  It wouldn’t have mattered if the disciples had found twenty lunches,  it still wouldn’t have been enough to feed the multitude standing there.  A hundred lunches wouldn’t have either or even a thousand.

But because I serve an amazing God,  because he is my friend,  living, working, breathing through me,  I am enough.

You see, it's not MY church.  It's God's.  I am not building it.  I am not blessing it.  I am not in charge of it.  God is.  I am doing what he wants me to do.  No more.  No less.  And my willingness with his power,  will build Mosaic Christian Fellowship.  

I am enough for the task that lay ahead.  I am enough to do what he wants me to do; to take steps, to walk, to leap into the calling that he has for my life.  That’s what God told me that day.

I am enough.  And so are you.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Is Depression a Sign of Weakness?

Is depression a sign of weakness?  Is anxiety a symptom of being inferior?

I want to talk about something I haven't talked about a lot on my blog. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blogpost called "He Sees Me."  The response I got from this simple post was amazing.  But what surprised me was that the responses I got were from people who experience anxiety, people who have been there in that place where I was when I was a child and experiencing debilitating panic attacks.  When I wrote the post,  I didn't feel that I was writing about anxiety or depression, actually.   What I  felt I was writing about was how God sees us in our dark time,  He sees us in our times of deepest need.  He sees and he cares.  But what resonated with my readers was that they too have gone through the pain of anxiety.  That was what they could relate to.

This is what you don't know.  That night,  I went to that place again.  I had the biggest panic attack that I have ever had since I was a little girl.  At first I thought it was because I allowed myself to go back to that place as a little girl when I wrote my post.  I allowed myself to live what it felt like to experience fear.  I wrestled all night with debilitating fear.   How it broke,  is for another post as it would make this one too long.  When it finally broke and I fell into a fitful sleep,  I dreamed that a man came to me and prophesied to me and he said this.  "The reason that you were attacked so viciously tonight with fear is that Satan does not want you to go there.  You touched a cord in peoples lives and he absolutely does not want you to explore that place in your life or in others.  He doesn't want you to go there.  So... go there."

When I lost Theodore 24 years ago,  I went through another time of anxiety that knocked me off my feet.  In fact working with many families that have gone through losing a child,   this is very common.   But we don't like to talk about it.   It wasn’t until years later when I was going through another traumatic event and I started to take medication for it to get over the hump, that I realized that I should have had medication when I lost Theodore.  But I didn’t.  And why didn’t I?  Because I bought into a lie.  I bought into a lie that if I admitted my fear, if I admitted my terror at night,  I would be admitting that i was an inferior person.  I would be admitting that i was weak.  I would be admitting that I just couldn't do it like others can - that I needed a crutch.   Somehow I would be saying that I was lesser of a  person because of what I was going through.  I bought into that lie big time. 

There is so much shame surrounding this issue.  And I believe that the longer we stay in this shame,  the higher our walls are and the stronger our prison is.  Its only in talking about  this shame that we will be able to be set free.

I am convinced that it is not fear itself that is the biggest problem.  It is the shame of fear.  It is the shame surrounding the subject.   Fear hits doctors and businessman and lawyers and painters and housewives and pastors.   It does not discriminate.  It hits us all - poor, rich,  old and young.  None of us are exempt from its grip. 

Its like the elephant in the room that nobody wants to talk about.  It's there, it's staring us in the face, but maybe, just maybe if we don't talk about it, it will leave. 

I want to be a part of a growing lot of people that expose this lie for what it is.  But I am convinced that I need you, my readers to help me expose it.  I need your stories.  I need your experiences.  I need what you did to get out of your prison or what you ARE doing.  I need stories and I need solutions.  I realize that this is a sensitive subject.  I won't expose who you are and what you have told me.  I will keep everything completely confidential.  I just believe that I have touched a cord that needs to be addressed more.  Please private message me or comment or whatever.  I would love to hear from YOU. 

I am not an expert on this topic.  I am not an authority.  But I have been there.  I have walked the deep waters of anxiety and depression so that gives me a voice, a voice that needs to be heard. 

Even now as I write this, I am terrified.  However,   I have people around me that are praying for me about this particular blogpost, that I won't experience any backlash.  The thing with terror is that it’s terrifying.  Fear is frightening.  You never know when it is lurking around the corner.  You never know what is going to trigger it.  You never know when the bony fingers of fear are going to curl around your throat - making it hard to  breathe; making it hard to live.   So we live in fear of fear.  We live in shame of fear.  And then we live in a prison. 

 I don't know where this will take me.  I don't know if I am supposed to write a book or if I am supposed to write some blog posts or take some speaking engagements on the subject or what.  But I know that I am supposed to be writing this right now.

 I know that I am "going there," my friends.  Will you go with me?