Family

My Pampered Pooch

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Which kind of pet owner are you? The first type treats their animals, well, like they’re animals. You provide the basics of kibbles and water. They must serve a function like guard dog, egg layer, or milk producer. You don’t abuse or neglect them. However, they stay where pets belong-outside! My stepfather held this austere philosophy. Suffice it to say, as long as I lived in his house, I never owned a pet. As a tweener girl, I envisioned Lassie, Flipper, or Black Beauty. Why, these pets where your BFF’s.

The second kind of pet owner treats their animal like Paris Hilton. They travel in designer handbags; have encrusted collars; and enjoy pet play dates. They bear touchy-feely titles like “sweetie pie,” “snuggles,” and “mama’s little baby.” Table food? Oh, they eat like royalty. Sleeping arrangements? Right on their master’s bed with matching silk jammies. That’s how I treat our Welsh terrier, Mack. He gets a fresh latte every morning; a walk along the bosque at noon; and biscuits in bed as a nightcap. Go ahead, you can judge me. I’m that kind of dog owner.

Honestly, if you were a pet, which kind of owner would you prefer? Me? I’d be Hotel Tycoon, Leona Helmsley’s, Maltese lap dog named “Trouble” who inherited $12 million at her owner’s death. Believe it or not, as a Christian, that’s exactly the kind of care you receive from Jesus, your Shepherd. His flock never lacks a thing. They drink from still waters the likes of Perrier. They take naps in pastures as idyllic as the English countrysides. When predators appear, He stands guard.Best of all, He restores their soul. In other words, He cares about their deepest, emotional needs.

Take a minute to read Psalm 23. Get to know this Good Shepherd. Follow Him wherever He goes. Even in the deepest valley, He’ll make sure that goodness and mercy follow right behind you. One day you will live in His house forever.

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Family

Christmas Anticipation

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The word Christmas fills my heart with anticipation that something special is about to happen. As a child, after Thanksgiving I’d count the days, hours, minutes until Christmas. Every store window, twinkling light, and song on the radio reminded me that “Santa Claus is coming to town.” The song said, “You’d better watch out,” so I knew I should be on my best behavior. I can still remember hanging my stocking on the mantle with care, “in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.” I could hardly sleep and would wake long before everyone else.

Now, I’m still the first one up. I turn on Christmas carols really loud, so Skip will get up. With two grandchildren, it’s even more exciting as we share the lights and glitter with Seth and Kaydence.

The tragedy of Christmas is that some people teach their children to anticipate the return of the jolly man in the red suit, not the babe in the manger. We ascribe to Santa the attributes of Christ: he sees all, knows all, keeps track of bad and good, and rewards accordingly. If children can exude such enthusiasm over the return of a mythical character, shouldn’t we Christians be ecstatic over the reality of Jesus Christ’s return? Perhaps we could use some childlike faith. Jesus said, “Unless you…become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). We mature Christians could use a dose of wonder, excitement and anticipation as we await the Lord’s coming.

Who are you anticipating this season, Santa in his sleigh, or the Savior in heaven? If you are focusing your thoughts on what’s under the tree, you might want to step back and focus on the real reason for the season, Jesus Christ.

In Christ’s love,

Lenya

Excerpt from Live Faithfully: A Study In The Book of James. To order, visit our store

Family

Welcome Home

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I love Israel. We spent two weeks retracing the “footsteps of Paul.” With one week in Israel and another week on a Mediterranean cruise, we stopped at some of the major places Paul mentions in his letters: Ephesus, Corinth, Crete. I have been to Israel over 30 times. It’s fresh and new and each time I love it more than the last. I love to travel anywhere. From Honolulu to see my brother Scott to Michigan and the home I grew up in, I like the different sites and cities. But do you know what I love most about traveling? Coming home! I feel like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, there’s no place like home! Back to my comfy bed, my cozy home, and my warm church family.

Returning home after this trip was much more anticipated than usual because my granddaughter (who I told you about last month) was waiting for me when we arrived! Sweet Kaydence Joy was born May 29 at 10:32 pm with blonde hair and blue eyes. She was 20 inches long and weighed 7.1 pounds, the perfect little package.

Battling the jetlag and exhaustion that comes from being gone for three weeks, I still couldn’t wait to hold her. It was the sweetest welcome home. I snuggled her in my arms and kissed her cheek and I thought of an even sweeter welcome home waiting for me in heaven. Jesus told the disciples He would go and prepare a place for them (see John 14) and we have been told earth is not our home (see Phil. 3:20). Even the Holy Land of Israel, where you can see and hear Jesus’ words coming to life from the pages of Scripture, even that is not my home.

Jesus waits for the time and day He has orchestrated to meet me face to face; a time and day only He knows. When my work here is finished, it will be the sweetest welcome home. Just as much as I longed to hold sweet Kaydence in my arms, I know Jesus longs to hold me and welcome me into His heavenly embrace.

Family

Family Jewels

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For those of you that haven’t heard, Skip and I are going to be grandparents again! Our son, Nate, and daughter-in-law, Janae, are expecting their second baby in late May. I am thrilled with anticipation. Watching sweet Seth grow in the past two years has been such a treasured time for us. Seeing him learn to walk and learn about the world around him has been fun and challenging. But this second baby holds even more anticipation for us because it’s a girl!

Kaydence Joy will be the first Heitzig girl born in over 100 years. We are up to our necks in tutu’s, lace, ruffles and bows. It’s been very different from when Seth arrived with jeans, Vans, and baseball caps.

Recently, some dear friends gathered with us to celebrate the arrival of Kaydence. These ladies didn’t waste the opportunity to find every cute outfit between here and California. Each outfit was as girly as they come. The parade of styles and colors from soft pinks to neon floral patterns, headbands, and shoes evoked ooh’s and aah’s from all of us. Some had delicate lace or lovely flowers that just left us breathless. Little girls are so much fun!

As I saw each outfit, I was giddy with delight at their beauty, and I remembered “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels” (Isa. 61:10).

With a background in fashion merchandising, I love clothes. I like everything from fashion forward looks to classic vintage. I love to find the perfect outfit for the perfect occasion and over the years there have been many outfits I have loved. But the outfit I always love the most is the clothing of Jesus as He covers my sins. He takes me to Him as His bride and adorns me with many jewels of His kingdom. I am decked out like royalty under His care. But this adornment isn’t outward, it’s inward.

1 Peter 3:3-4 is the familiar verse that tells us, “Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” Jesus decorates my spirit, my heart, and my soul.

So while I am excited at the prospect of passing on my fashion ideas and tips to Kaydence as she grows more than that I hope to pass on the “family jewels” of faith: the gentle and quiet spirit which is precious to the Lord.

Family

My Valentine

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In June, Skip and I celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary. Our lives dovetail snuggly. We finish one another’s sentences, possess hysterical inside jokes, and move seamlessly through the kitchen during meal prep. Don’t’ get me wrong, our personalities diverge. His spontaneity balances out my schedules. My sentimentality softens his sensibility. I love novels while he thrives on knowledge. But, like Lennon and McCartney, our collaborative efforts far outshine anything accomplished solo.

Our greatest connection comes from the Lord. It was “first love” at first sight. I met Skip as a brand new believer. His passion for God’s Word magnetized me. My pursuit of God inspired him. Even then, we couldn’t get enough fellowship attending church over five times a week. And our discussions about Scripture provided a love language all their own. Even after all these years I am convinced that God made us soul mates.

I’m certain that some of you may view this God-centric love about as romantic as the dictionary. But we fell in love from the inside out. Make no mistake; we experienced physical attraction, too. He looked like a beach boy who fell from the pages of “Surfer” magazine, only taller. I resembled the quintessential East coast college coed, only tanner. Over time we appear more like brother and sister than husband and wife. We’ve blended into a matched set.

Before you write us off as the stuff of fairy tales, know that we each possess our share of annoying habits. My chiding sense of humor often rubs him the wrong way. His enthusiasm for gadgets gets under my skin. No texting, tweeting, or tinkering during meal times! But somehow, over the years, even our idiosyncrasies seem endearing. He spots the fiendish twinkle in my eye and starts evasive measures. I have no problem plucking the iPhone right out of his clutches. And then we laugh because we know each other that well.

Thirty years flew by in a flash. But I’d sign up for another thirty in a heartbeat.

Lenya

Church Body, Family

Forget-Me-Nots

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Baby blue, soft pink, or delicate white, these small, flat, five-petal flowers surrounded by a yellow center are called myosotis which means “mouse ears.” Forget-me-nots fade in the presence of showy Valentine roses. They possess no intoxicating fragrance like the star-gazer lily. And they prefer riverbanks and streams to the glory of gardens or bouquets.

What forget-me-nots lack in bravado they flourish in meaning. German legend holds that while God named the flowers, this unassuming plant cried out, “Forget-me-not, O Lord.” God replied, “Then that shall be your name.” Religious tradition says that the Lord Jesus created them to remind the world of His mother’s blue eyes. Medieval folklore conjures up a knight in shining armor who offered the posy to his lady. As a declaration of her love and faithfulness, she wore them in remembrance of him.

Do you know any forget-me-nots?

  • Perhaps it is your painfully shy relative.
  • Maybe it is a missionary friend, far beyond the comforts of home.
  • It could be your neighbor who slips in and out without being noticed.
  • What about the widow in the women’s ministry?

I’d like to extol the virtues of one such flower in my life. Forgive me, humble forget-me-not, for gathering you into the limelight for just a moment. It’s time that you received your due. I’d like to remind others of your gentle grace and unfailing faith.

His name is Mark Macallister. He recently left earth to enter into the presence of his Heavenly Father. Mark arrived in my life as my husband’s best friend. Every pastor’s wife prays for a Jonathan to watch his back. When we moved to Albuquerque nearly thirty years ago, Mark appeared with a servant’s heart, a carpenter’s hammer, and a quick wit. He volunteered for the lowliest occupations when no one else stepped up to the need. Without fanfare, he served as child care director, acted as Skip’s secretary and assistant, helped build classroom walls and office cubicles, reached out to the homeless, developed our missions department, and inaugurated Calvary’s first School of Ministry.

However, Mark’s heart far outshone his handiwork. Like the flower, he was humble in the truest sense of the word. Rather than the latest fashion trends, blue jeans and tennis shoes suited him. His nature called for the faraway places and forgotten people. Mark received an undeniable call to countries closed to the gospel. He gathered teams to smuggle Bibles. He raised up short-term missionaries to encourage the underground church. He developed a network of native believers whose lives would be threatened by the government if exposed. Mark loved these people with such fervency that he traveled to the mall the while bearing physical pain and personal peril. Mark knew people in hidden places that no one else knew, except our heavenly Father.

Mark taught me the value of intercession. Mark reminded me to value people rather than possessions. Mark demonstrated to me that man must not touch God’s glory. Mark showed me what a soldier for God looks like. Mark’s strength in weakness caused me to lean heavily upon the Lord in my trials. He’ll always be one of my heroes in the faith. These qualities live on in my heart.

Happily, Mark knew that he was not forgotten. I joined his private prayer chain to intercede for wisdom and wellness. We spent time on the phone encouraging one another. Others became aware of his plight as I shared his story. His unshakable wife Jody and I spoke often of Mark. I will carry a pocket full of posies at the funeral of this knight now in shining armor.

What about you? Is there a forget-me-not in your life? Have you neglected them? Don’t wait until its too late to encourage and engulf them in your love. Perhaps they long for a watering season. “Good news from far away is like cold water to the thirsty” (Prov. 25:25, NLT).

Family

There’s No Place Like Home

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My mother lives in her mother’s home, a Victorian farmhouse surrounded by a cobbled brick wall where I once tottered impersonating a tight-rope artist. The rose garden, on the front porch, served as Wonderland as I disappeared beneath its foliage during hide-and-seek. I sang the rhymes of my youth perched upon one of the two gnarled apple trees in the middle of the rolling lawn. “When Johnny comes marching home again hurrah, hurrah.”

Skip and I returned to 802 W. Court Street during the holidays to celebrate my first Christmas at home in over 20 years. Before leaving, he asked me to recall some of the favorite places or things so that he could photograph them. I described our stockings hung upon the grand marble fireplace in the library while my sister and I twirled in matching pajamas by its flames. Suspended along the stairway, in the main entrance, hung a wondrous chandelier where my father uttered, “Pretty” while lightly brushing the dangling crystals.

But the room that conjured the best memories was the kitchen with its huge copper hood and table nestled in the bay window. There my grandmother, and now my mother, served meals that rival any Dickensian feast. I’ll take my mother’s spritz cookies over Timmy’s figgy pudding any day. And then, I realized that things don’t make great memories, people do. What makes a house a home? It’s not the furnishings, but the family within its four walls. I’d be nuts to travel 1,200 miles from New Mexico to Michigan to scale a brick wall or gaze upon a chandelier… unless my family waited inside.

The truth of our earthly dwellings dovetails perfectly to our heavenly home. What’s so great about heaven? The streets of gold, the pearly gates, or the mansions in glory? Paradise can become a prison if you’re the only one there. Really the question isn’t what, but Who. The greatest thing about heaven isn’t a thing at all. It’s those who reside there, especially God! Dorothy would never have traveled through enchanted orchards, haunted forests, and poisoned poppies to reach Oz if the Wizard who granted wishes didn’t live there. Likewise, as Christians we may traverse narrow paths, daunting mountain peaks, or death valley. But we know that the pilgrimage leads to our heavenly Father. And there’s no place like His home!

Church Body, Family

Super Glue

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For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19:5-6

Super Glue works. Once two items are glued together, separation becomes a painful, sticky mess. Paper tearsor fabric frays if you attempt to divide the two portions melded into one. Once separated, the original items aren’t ever the same each inevitably retains fragments of the other. Think of two pieces of paper glued together, they’re never the same after they’ve been torn apart. Inevitably, each piece is ragged and weaker because of the separation. That’s why Super Glue comes with a label advising extreme caution when using it.

Marriage can be seen as God’s Super Glue because two lives are intricately woven into one. Jesus said that the husband and wife are no longer two, but one. After this blessed blending, attempts at separation cause irreparable damage. Hearts break, commitments crumble, and families split. Inevitably God’s intertwining of husband and wife extends to children, friends and family connected to the union. So God’s Word provides a strong warning: What God has joined together, let not man separate.

In Straight Talk to Men and Their Wives, James Dobson shared a letter his father wrote to his mother before their marriage: “I want you to understand and be fully aware of my feelings concerning the marriage covenant I have been taught at my mother’s knee and in harmony with the Word of God that the marriage vows are inviolable, and by entering them I am binding myself absolutely and for life. The idea of estrangement from you through divorce for any reason at all (although God allows one: infidelity) will never at any time be permitted to enter my thinking.”

Imagine the security Mrs. Dobson must have felt when she received that letter from her husband-to-be. She discovered firsthand that marriage, like Super Glue, should stick forever. Mr. Dobson lovingly attached his life to hers regardless of what tried to tug or pull them apart. Are you married or contemplating marriage? Remember, don’t let what God has joined together come unglued!

Cancer Survivor, Family

For Better or for Worse…



It’s not easy being married to a man made of superior genetics. He’s tall and thin, blonde haired and blue-eyed. I promise he eats what he wants, when he wants, all day long, and has never gone up a pant size. After 28 years of marriage he’s had a headache once—one time! He’s smart and talented; he still corrects my English gaffs and I write books! He plays the guitar (electric and acoustic), the base (electric and acoustic), the piano, and the harmonica. He photographs on a level that should be shown in a gallery in Santa Fe or New York. He just rebuilt his ’42 Harley and we all know about his silver tongue oratory skills. Truly, I live with a renaissance man.

With all his amazing talents and abilities there’s an area in which he did not excel. Whew! That would be in the realm of coddling, cuddling, and care giving. I’m not saying he doesn’t care, he just doesn’t know how to show it. It’s like expecting a father to be a mother. The nurturing skills just don’t come naturally to him. If I need sermon suggestion…he’s the man. If I want to take a road bike expedition…he’s the guy. If I need the lawn or car maintained…he’s on the job. But ask for help washing your hair, preparing Cream of Wheat for breakfast, or getting dressed in the morning and things go south…that is up until recently.

I’m convinced that your prayers and God’s grace have transformed Skip into a saint. He’s on top of my complicated medicine and supplement schedule. He has accompanied me to every doctor’s appointment and takes notes. He ordered and assembled a teak wood bench for my showering needs. He keeps the wily Winston (our Airedale) brushed and bathed. At bed time, he places a beverage and crackers on the nightstand, just in case I feel nauseous. He tweaks the thermostat, adjusts the curtains, fluffs the pillows, and hands me the channel changer. It seems that my worst is bringing out the best in him.

Today he will escort me to my first round of chemotherapy. He’s made sure that my sister will be by my side throughout the eight hour ordeal and he will bring us lunch mid-day. Then, after the toxic drip, he’ll bring me home and tuck me in bed. I know when I wake up that he will have been hovering the whole time. What a comforting thought.

Love,
Lenya