Our first pastoral retreat

We’ve never been on a Pastoral retreat weekend before and so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But it was really a neat time of praying, planning, vision casting, laughing and sharing with the church pastoral staff and a couple training in ministry.

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A family in our church opened up their lake home for us to stay for the weekend with our families. The men went up early on Friday and the wives and kids came up Friday night and we stayed through Sunday afternoon.

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The kids had a blast on Saturday afternoon because it warmed up enough for them to play outside. A huge help was having a young married couple in our church watch the kids while we had our sessions on Saturday. There were six kids in all ranging from ages 2 – 14 so it was loud at times but it worked and we wanted the families to be together.

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At meal breaks we all pitched in and grabbed our food. I have to brag on my man because he did the food planning and buying for this retreat. And he did so good. Good with the amount of food, choices, etc.

We are blessed to be among a pastoral staff who genuinely love God with all their hearts. They love their families and they love the work of the church and what God has called them to.

Ministry is a heavy weight. It’s heavy because you are loving and leading people through incredibly joyous times and also through incredibly painful times. It’s heavy because there are huge decisions to be made that can shape and direct the course of the church. Much prayer and seeking God goes into it and honestly that can be quite draining at times. There are unique burdens and responsibilites that come with it but there are amazingly rich joys and rewards. It is an honor and gift to be called into ministry. We don’t take it lightly. This weekend we were able to seek God on matters, talk with each other and pray together about the things we love most.  And we wait in expectation to see what all God has in store for our church community the next 12-18 months. We even planned out 10 years loosely knowing God has the complete right and control to trump every single thing on the “planned agenda”. It is his work not ours.

Friends, please pray for your pastor’s and their families. I can’t tell you how much it thrills my heart when someone comes up to me and tells me, “I am praying for your family. I know marriage is hard and I’m praying for your marriage and your family.” Ladies, don’t ever take it offensively when someone says they’re praying for your marriage or think in your head, “OMGosh why does she think my marriage is in need of prayer?!! I need to give off a better impression of a stronger marriage.”  No, not at all. The truth is we all stand in desperate need of prayer for our marriages, in our parenting, in our family needs. And your pastor’s home is no different. Cover them in prayer as you cover your own family in prayer.

 

 

 

 

When you accidentally text your Pastor’s wife about your hickey.

I received this text a few months ago from a church-er and am still shaking my head over it. So is she. In fact she confirmed with me today it was just too good not to share with others…..without names attached. Grey is church chick and green is me.

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You can see in her own words she gave me permission to share and I confirmed before posting today. So no worries if you accidentally text me about your make out session. I won’t share unless I have your permission – in writing!

I can’t make this stuff up you guys.

To top it off today. TODAY, I say. I texted a local pastor’s wife in town and asked her to let me know when she gets her sh*t so we can pray for her. Yeah, I did. I hate it when I mix up the “i” instead of the “o” in the word shot. It’s really quite dangerous. Thankfully she texted back and said, “you mean SHOT?” And we both lol’d. You just have to. If you take this stuff too seriously we’d all be in a heap of shot.

We might as well smile and extend some grace to both ourselves and the ones getting hickeys.

Be careful texting this weekend folks!

 

 

 

 

 

Church fail – OMGosh I’m a freak!

All of last week I pretty much ate a daily dose of humble pie. It wasn’t the most epic parenting week ever and I certainly didn’t hold up to any pastor’s wife specs and qualifications last night at the Community Thanksgiving service. Let me paint the picture:

Once a year our awesome little community holds a Thanksgiving service on Sunday night. It either takes place in a predominately white church with a black pastor speaking or a predominately black church with a white pastor speaking. This year it was at a predominately black church. I should be used to these services by now because we attend every year and there are some things that are done differently in these services and that’s part of what I love so much about them. I truly love it but it would do me well to remember a few key things.

So last night we walk in and Randy places us in the third row behind all the ministers of our community. He then promptly leaves me and the kids sitting there by ourselves because he is whisked off to a private room where all the ministers gather and pray before the service. Makes sense but I forgot about this part. Not a big deal. Until you realize there’s nobody in front of you to watch for when to stand, sit down, or leave to put money in the offering. There is protocol to this stuff and you’re not always told what it is.

I start to notice myself sitting when EVERYone else is standing. Then I find myself starting to stand up when everyone else is still sitting. Nice one, Mel. I notice the nice looking couple behind me. She smiles and I admit to her I don’t know when to stand or sit. She says, “Just follow the leader.” Would be great except the ministers are my leaders and they have their own protocol of standing and sitting and it’s not always when the congregation does it. We sort of laugh together. And then I realize I’ve not introduced myself to them. I should welcome this nice couple. Oh I know – I should ask if they go to church here. No wait, we’re at the black church this year and they are lily white. They don’t go here. They might not even be FROM here. It’s Thanksgiving week. I bet they’re visiting family because I’ve never seen them at the Thanksgiving Community service before and it’s usually the same crowd every year. I’ll welcome them.

But I quickly get distracted by the fact that once again people are standing. I immediately stand up and fumble for my bulletin to find the words everyone is repeating. Responsive reading is so beautiful. I love it so much but I could not for the life of me find the place. I mumble words I think might fit in until I find my place. Finally I find the words and we’re on the last sentence.

This time I am quick to use my peripheral vision to see if we are sitting or singing or giving testimony at this point in the service. We are sitting.

I keep feeling the need to introduce myself to the people behind me. They are a sharp looking couple. She and I laughed together about not knowing when to do stuff and we’d soon have another mishap connection over the offering.

So what I love about black church offerings is they flat out get excited about giving. So much so that they have ushers that dismiss you by rows one by one. You take your offering down the aisle in front of everyone to put into a basket. It’s like a celebration. I really love the joy that seems to exude during this time.

But I would’ve had more joy if I had money to put in. Last year – no lie people – last year the pastor’s wife of the minister speaking – gave me a dollar to put in. She saw the look of horror that came over my face when they announced the offering and I didn’t have my purse and Randy was on the stage with the other ministers. I was so thankful for Mrs. Betty’s assistance.

Well, last night I forgot to bring money again and this time Mrs. Betty was on the other side of the church. There was no subtle sharing of the offering this time. I decided it might be safe to ask the woman behind me since we’d already laughed at some of the earlier mishaps. But something held me back – probably the fact she was a mere stranger passing through and how weird to ask for money. I would later learn it was the grace of God that kept my mouth shut.

Randy was two rows in front of me with an empty row between us. He turned around and saw the “no money!” expression on my face yet again.

He pulls out a wad of dollar bills for his inept wife and kids. I’m hoping he might smuggle them on page 327 of the hymnal but instead he stretches out far and hands the money over. I’m disappointed that I failed to remember the special offering again. I feel out of place. I don’t feel like I know what I’m supposed to be doing. Soon enough though my thoughts drift away from me and on to the awesome choir special that is going on. They are swaying, belting it out beautifully and people are walking the aisles with their money. I looked for the ushers in their white dresses but didn’t see any. They must be doing it differently this year. Looks like a free for all to me. I get excited when I see a few people from our own church there.  They must have been sitting in the way back because I didn’t see them when we came in. I decide to file in after them. That’s when I see the look in Randy’s eye as I pass him. He quietly says, “I think you were supposed to go last. They are dismissing by rows starting in the back.”

Well of course they were and of course I missed my cue once again.

I turn to the same woman behind me and say, “Well, apparently I’m breaking all the rules tonight because I went too soon.” She was gracious and smiled and we giggled again.

The sermon was incredible and reminded us of what to truly be thankful for this Thanksgiving and to not forget the people who are being persecuted for Christ’s name. Would we be willing to die for Jesus. Are we that thankful for him?

Just as the service was about to conclude the Ministerial Alliance coordinator says, “We want to thank our city officials and dignitaries that might be joining us tonight. Our Mayor is with us tonight. Mayor, would you please stand.”

And directly behind me – that couple I had been confessing to all night long – that couple – they stood up as the Mayor of our city.

I’ve never had the desire to fall slain in the spirit but I can promise you I tried really hard to fall out in that moment. To fall out cold and never wake up until Black Friday 2016.

Ya’ll – I almost welcomed the Mayor of our city to our city. I made fun of myself ALL night long to his wife. I’m a dork. I’m a dork. I’m a dork!!!!!!

We get in the van to go home and I tell Randy of all the churchy mistakes I made and how mortified I was. He laughed and said, “So you didn’t know that was Jay Donecker and his wife sitting behind you?” Then to make matters worse our nine year old daughter pipes up and says, “Mom, how did you not know that? I’ve met him twice before and knew who he was.”

Well just put me to bed and wake me up in ten years please.

The end.

 

31 Days: Day 18 – Pastoral lingo can start rumors if not careful.

We had a wedding, a funeral and hospital visits this weekend  – It’s a natural part of the pastor’s life. It’s a privilege to be welcomed into such delicate and intimate times of life. Not always easy and many times heart wrenching yet exactly what God has called us to.

I was reminded this weekend of how ingrained we get as pastors and pastor wives with church terminology and pastor lingo.We forget and throw around words that make sense to us but might confuse others.

For instance the time a person was on the phone wanting to set up a time to speak to Randy and I  said, “Let’s see, he’s got a surgery at 1:00 but could get back with you by 4:00pm if that would work.” The man hesitated and said, “He’s having surgery – that might be hard for him to talk to me at 4:00.” I started laughing and corrected my statement by saying he was visiting someone who has having surgery at 1:00pm. And then I made a mental note to use my words more carefully. This is how rumors get started. Ha! “Preacher so and so is having surgery…..hmmmmm I thought they wanted more children”. Bahahaha!!

I’ve also made the mistake several times of saying Randy was marrying someone and that’s why he wasn’t with me. Most of the time I’m at the wedding he’s officiating but when I’m not it just sounds weird to say he’s marrying someone and that’s why he’s not with me. Again, note to self. I certainly don’t be the source of a rumor that started that my man is a polygamist!

So yeah, I’m learning to use my words more carefully these days.

What this has to do with outreach I have no idea.

Tomorrow we draw for the two book give aways so be sure to check back.

 

 

 

 

I freaked out and told him he should’ve married someone else.

It was a fabulous Missions Conference at our church this past week. I love it so much every year. And every year I say it’s the best one. This year we decided to have the small group of Missionaries and  pastoral staff over to our house for lunch.

So fifteen minutes before the Missionaries get to our house for lunch I exclaimed to my husband who was frantically helping me get the porches cleaned off and the house picked up, “You should’ve married someone else. I can’t do this. I suck at this!”

No lie.

We both laughed and soon enough I was over my freak out moment. It was the first time I had bought most of the food for our guests. I’ve always prided myself in making the food. It’s what my Mom and Mother-in-law always did. It’s what I want to do for our guests because we all know homemade food tastes better than store bought food. But this time around because of unexpected circumstances and being out of town four days prior to our Missions Conference I was way behind in things.

I knew if we kept our lunch plans I would have to buy the food even though several people had offered to help. I turned it down because I still thought I could swing it myself. See why I have to pray for humility? This.right.here.

I reached out to a new friend who is helping me through her book and blog. She gave me some great ideas and tips which helped a lot.

Sue asked me for an update on how things went. I shared the truth about the pre-company freak out moment but how once they got there we had such a great time together and how awesome it was. How we loved sitting on the front porch hearing stories of how God was working in their countries.

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She asked me these 3 questions:

What did you learn about hospitality? What did you learn about God? What did you learn about yourself? 

I’ve been thinking about these things ever since. As I read her book I realize I’ve been missing some major pieces to understanding true hospitality. But don’t worry – this isn’t the kind of book that makes you go away feeling like a heap of condemnation just came barreling down on you. Quite the contrary. It makes me jump at the thought of doing this hospitality thing with different eyes.

I’ll talk more about her book in another post. I’m going to be giving away her book and another book that I’m digging right now and want you to dig with me. So check back soon for the giveaways!

Have a great week!

 

Blogging through the real and the hard #anxiety

I desire to be as honest as I can be in this blog space for the glory of God and building up of others. Okay, and for my own sanity because I process life many times through stringing words together and slapping them down on paper. There are things of course that I can’t always share in this space for confidentiality and respect issues but I want to speak from the depths of my heart as I feel God leading me. Even the hard stuff and the messy stuff. Today involves some hard stuff.

We’ve been home from the hospital for almost a week and it’s been a wild ride getting used to the new, although temporary, normal.

My sweet Mom made a bedroom in the dining room since all our bedrooms are on the upper floor of our house. Randy has slept on the floor next to me every single night. Bless his soul. This is just one of many many less than desirable things he does for me right now. He never complains. He just keeps on loving me “through sickness” like he said he would the day he married me. So the care I’m receiving from my husband is priceless. It couldn’t be better.

My Mom is filling in the gaps while Randy takes care of me. She gets the kids up, makes breakfast, gets them to school and picks them up. Does the laundry and keeps up the house. Our church has been as much a powerful support as my family. The prayer support has blown me away. The meals have been incredible not to mention daily. They built us a nice wheelchair ramp while I was in the hospital. I’ve had offers to clean my house, grocery shop and do whatever we need done. My heart has been echoing, “We are loved.” It has truly been amazing.

Yet despite the amazing God-sent care and favor I am receiving right now I am still struggling in some areas. It started yesterday afternoon as I took a nap during the day. An overwhelming graphic visual of what I went through when I fell came rushing in my mind and heart. And tears just started rolling down. I was soaking in more of the trauma of the event. The trauma of what I saw. Of waiting for help and not being able to get anyone’s attention. The cracking of my bone. The pain. The additional 15 minute wait for the EMT’s. It was all catching up with me. I told the Lord as I cried that I didn’t know what to do with the thoughts. I told Him I trusted Him and He’d need to show me how to process all this stuff. Up to that point I was just viewing it as a fall down the steps and I broke my leg. It happens to people all over the world every single day. And it happened to me. It hurts. It stinks. But I will get through it. But over the days and sleepless anxious nights my view was now changing. With Randy’s help I was able to realize that my body is responding to the extent of the trauma I faced which was significant. And I need to allow myself the time and space to deal with it. The injury was sustained instantaneously but the healing would be a long process. Even emotional and mental healing.

This anxious at night thing is new to me so I’m not totally sure what’s going on. It seems to show up at night and in my breathing. Lightness of breath, shallow breathing, restlessness and an overall insecurity. At first we thought it was related to my high blood pressure and pain meds. Now I’m not so sure. I believe prayer has made a huge difference the last few days and my nights are getting better. The last two nights have been the best two nights of sleep yet. I’m hopeful we will work through this and get on top of it in time.

If anything I have a greater understanding of people who deal with anxiety to some degree. I’ve never experienced this before but now I have a taste of what some people go through on a regular basis. May God use this in me to bring greater glory to him and to be a better servant of his.

I am blessed. Things I’m praising God for today:

  • My MIP group praying at my house today – love these ladies and our time together! Our attribute? God is Healer. Bring it!
  • The sweet visits I’ve had all day from people in our church who love us and care for us so well
  • My Physical Therapist who is awesome
  • My husband who is serving me with such incredible strength and love
  • My Mom who is working so hard to keep things running as smooth as possible
  • That God is my healer and the fact that He will heal me in his perfect timing and in the way He wants to heal me. It will be good.
  • A sweet visit from a good friend out of town. Good laughs at her kids funny videos and her willingness to share with me her own past struggle with anxiety.
  • The prayer covering we are receiving from our church family and friends. It’s HUGE. It’s making an incredible difference in our lives every day.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

 

Why I don’t always say I’m a pastor’s wife immediately

It’s funny to me how the atmosphere can change instantly when people find out you’re a pastor or a pastor’s wife. That look of “deer in the headlights” comes over some people and if there were a quotation bubble over their head it would read, “Oh crap, holy crap that is, I just cussed in front of the preacher and offered him a beer all in the same sentence!” This is usually followed by a running commentary of the wonderful things they have done in life to date.

Some people feel the need to list their family’s perfect church attendance history from their past life and share their off-the-charts charitable giving. Seems like somewhere along the line everyone’s Granddad’s Granddad was a preacher and so that comes out as well as other Christianly sounding credentials.

If the person had used any colorful language prior to the pastor/pastor’s wife coming out of the closet then it ceases immediately and there is awkward stumbling over words and a lack of eye contact. Many times the conversation ends with “see you at church on Sunday” even though they don’t have the slightest intention of coming to church. And it’s just all around strange.

Annnnnd this is why I don’t always introduce myself as a pastor’s wife immediately. To avoid the weirdness.

I watched a similar scenario go down recently as I got to know a woman over a few weeks. I really forgot about the whole pastor’s wife thing. I wasn’t trying to hide it from her, I just thought she knew. And when I referred to my husband preaching she got the glazed over look and said, “Your husband is the pastor?”  I said, “Yeah, I thought you already knew that.” She said, “Uhhh nope. (hits herself in the forehead)  Oh blankety blank. Oh wow. I can’t believe that. This whole time we’ve been talking and you just seem so normal and all.”

I thanked her because rarely am I ever called normal. Ha! She had a good nervous laugh and things were only slightly weird for a minute or two. Or so I think. I wondered if she suddenly thought she was a “project” or thought “oh, that explains the interest in me. You’re paid to do this kind of thing.” I don’t know. All I can do is just hope she knows my title as pastor’s wife doesn’t make me any different than the girl who sat and listened to her story because I was genuinely interested and concerned.

I love being a pastor’s wife and I don’t begrudge it for one second but I do hold back sharing my title as a PW in some cases for the sake of avoiding the weirdness and other times I just forget I am one. Because what matters most is who we are not what our position is.

 

 

What you fear your kids say about you in Sunday School.

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I had one of those cringe moments Sunday morning as I was teaching the 4 & 5’s class during church. We were talking about sin and how we all do it. The kids were talking about how they kick, get angry and lie, etc. I said, “Mrs. Melody sins too.” Of course I wasn’t exactly ready to start listing them so freely and childlike but one of the girls said, “Like what! What do you do?”

I wasn’t prepared for this and I was suddenly thinking of the most sanitized sins I wanted to share with my class. So I said, “Well, sometimes I …..” and right at that moment this sweet little boy interrupts and says, “Um, Mrs. Melody, in Sunday School this morning Sophie (my daughter) told Mrs. Amy (Sophie’s Sunday School teacher) that her Mom, um, her Mom, um…..”

At this point I’m sweating bullets and wonder  what my daughter might have felt compelled to tell her entire Sunday School class regarding my sin. I’m mentally backtracking through the morning. Did I yell at anyone, kick the dog, say a bad word or honk at someone on the way to church? Not that I could remember. Not to say it hasn’t ever happened.

Finally this sweet little boy finishes his statement. “Sophie said that her Mom’s Mom was sick and in the hospital but she came home but we still need to pray for her.”

Relieved that a list of my personal sins were not rattled off in Sunday School I said, “Oh yes, you are so right and thank you for bringing that up. She would love your prayers.” The little boy then says, “Mrs. Melody, we should do it right now. We should pray for her now. I’ll do it.”

So we stopped in the middle of our lesson about sin and took a divine rabbit trail and prayed for my Mama who is feeling much better but still was prayed over by a sweet group of 4 &5’s. I looked at this little boy and said, “You just  led our entire class in prayer and I’m so proud of you and I’m thankful you did that. I will call my Mom today and tell her you prayed for her.That was a special gift you gave to me.” He smiled the biggest grin and I almost cried in class.

And then we went back to discussing my sin. Oh fun. I said something about my sin of complaining and not obeying God and my kids would say, “Oh yeah, I do that too.One time I ……” They were so open with their mistakes and sin. There was no condemnation but a sweet childlike simplicity of admitting their own sin and being okay that I’m a sinner too. It was refreshing and so unlike adults in church. We squirm, don’t we, when personal sin is brought up. If we must, we choose to talk about the respectable sins like complaining, not being thankful, worrying, etc. which are all sinful but seem more acceptable to us for some reason. Sometimes we are slow to identify with other people when they discuss their sin. We’d rather be the ones to offer prayer for them than to admit we get tripped up by the same sin. So my 4&5’s taught me a lot this Sunday morning. I want to be as unreserved and open as they are. I’m pretty sure this has to do with the child like faith Jesus references in his talks with people in the Bible.

I was describing to my kids how God says he forgives as far as the east is to the west and how he forgets our sin when we confess our sin to him. And how comforting that is. This same little boy says, “Yeah, and it’s so cool. He’s the only one that can do that.”

It was a great day in Junior church. I think I’ll go back next week to see what else they teach me.

 

 

Tobacco & Collard Greens – Welcome to the new Pastorate!

Tobacco & Collard Greens

After being at our new church for a few months I was invited by several of the older women in the church to go out to dinner with them. They were so cute when they drove up to my driveway. Their heads barely reached over the headrests and all, but the driver, were in the backseat. They left the front passenger seat open for me which I thought was so sweet.

On our way to the “eatin’ place” we sat in bumper to bumper traffic and I was desperately trying to carry on a conversation with a group of very quiet ladies.

I happened to glance out my window and saw a huge tobacco field. So, of all things, I start asking questions about tobacco. I never knew the process involved in making tobacco so these sweet pillars of the church explained to me how you make it. They were rather perturbed with the “new” way of making tobacco. “It isn’t as careful of a process these days,” they noted. That brought me to my next question, “Well, does tobacco taste any different today than it did back then?” I mean, seriously, what a dumb question for the pastor’s wife to ask. These are very refined, Southern church women. Would they really fess up even if they did do a little chewin’?

Dead.silence. for what seemed to be hours.

Finally one little shaky voice piped up in the back and confessed, “I tried it once with a friend but I got so sick I could hardly stand it. I’ve never had any since.” A few of the ladies swore they had never tasted it even in all the years of working the tobacco fields and others remained silent with a half grin, but never saying a word. I couldn’t help but wonder if they were reminiscing in their own minds of the good ole days.

I thought this would be a good time to tell them about how my great grandmother would ride to church in a horse and buggy and dip snuff on the way there. The problem was that when she would “spit,” the wind would catch it and swipe it into the backseat where my grandmother and her siblings were riding. They had to clean up every Sunday morning before they got out of the carriage. The best part was that the snuff wasn’t in a skoal can. Instead, it was in a beautiful Limoges china box.

We all laughed at the thought of this as we pulled into our new eating place since they had moved the other one. A squabble about broke out over the eatin’ place. Half the ladies thought we hadn’t gone far enough while the others thought they had taken the old Shoney’s place down. We ended up at Golden Coral for dinner. And no more than five minutes after we got there and prayed for our food did major drama go down.

One of our groupies got choked on some cabbage. Choking and gasping for breath. The lady next to her patted her on the back but this wasn’t helping at all. I sat there and thought, “Surely, she will be okay in a second.” But the seconds turned into minutes. I got up and tried to do the Heimlich while she was sitting down. (Don’t ever do that because that’s NOT the way you’re supposed to do it.) I hadn’t thought about the Heimlich since the word was on a spelling test in high school. I knew how to spell it but was struggling with how to do it. I was afraid I’d break some ribs if I did it too hard. I asked my 97 year old friend if she could breathe. She had sheer panic on her face as she shook her head NO and pointed to her throat. She was about to choke to death and it was going to be my fault. The pastor’s wife was killing one of the founding members of the church because she couldn’t do the Heimlich maneuver right. Not good. I loved this sweet, independent widow who still lived at home by herself. I had to figure something out.

A few minutes later I looked at all the people in the restaurant that were staring at us like a freak show and yelled, “Is there a doctor or medic in the house? We need some help here!” Two people came over and told me to stand her up. I did this and it helped some but she still was struggling to breathe. I swear every time she would try to cough hard her bottom set of dentures would go out about a ¼”. I kept waiting for them to fly out on the tray in front of her but thankfully they never did. Finally after about four minutes of trying to clear the airway she got relief and all was well. By that time the rest of the ladies were in shock. They swore they were praying the whole time I was beating her on the back and yelling at everyone around us to do something.

What do you really say at that point? She sure as heck didn’t want anymore cabbage. Neither did the rest of us. So we all just sat there in silence. Me and my 90 year old friends. Sitting quietly and staring at our cabbage and collard greens. Somebody had called the ambulance so a fire truck showed up and two paramedics came in to check her out. My friend was fine but still had to fill out a bunch of paperwork. We finally boxed up our food and made our way out to the car. We got lost a few times on the way home but eventually made it back home. Whew! I was never so glad to see home. Who’da ever thought that my first night out the girls would be so dramatic!

I look back on that night and as traumatic as it was it served as one of the sweetest memories I’ve had at our church. These ladies spent time and effort into trying to make the night so special for me. I often take things for granted in my busy, frantic days. It’s not always easy to plan something as simple as a dinner out for our older sister’s in Christ. My meal was paid for. The front seat of the car was reserved for me. I was offered to go first in the line. I felt so honored by my new friends.

I miss my one older friend who has since gone on to be with Jesus. I regret that I never made it to her house for that ice cold glass of tea we talked about. Two of the others are now home bound and a trip to the eatin’ place isn’t an option anymore. I’m reminded to make the most of my moments. To follow through on promised visits. And to grow in my love for these sweet older women who know more about life and tobacco than they might care to admit.

Quick, sit up straight…..it’s the preacher!

It’s funny to me how the atmosphere can change instantly when people find out you are a pastor or a pastor’s wife. In meeting new people, my husband and I do not always bring up that he is a pastor. It’s not because we are ashamed of his position. It’s because many times when people find out we are in ministry they do a freak out number on us and get all weird. That look of a “deer in the headlights” comes over these people and if there were a literal quotation bubble over their head it would read, “Oh crap, holy crap that is, I just cussed in front of the preacher and offered him a beer all in the same sentence!” This is usually followed by a running commentary on the wonderful things they have done in life to date.


Some people feel the need to list their family’s perfect church attendance history, amazing charitable giving, the fact that their Granddad’s Granddad was a preacher and other Christian sounding credentials. If the person had used any colorful language up to this point then usually it ceases immediately and there is awkward stumbling over words and a lack of eye contact. Many times the conversation ends with “see you at church on Sunday” even though they don’t even know the name or directions to the church.

But before I’m too quick to point a laughing finger and roll my eyes here I must be willing to admit that I do the same thing when I compare myself or find myself in the presence of someone I deem as more “spiritual” than me. Too often I am wondering what they think of me and I have to fight the urge to slip in a few spiritual accomplishments like the latest Bible Study we completed or a church event we just pulled off. There’s an element of wanting to impress. And it only reveals my struggle with pride and insecurity and throws me in the same boat as the stranger who just spouted off his/her top ten unrealistic church goin’ credentials.

I’m praying for a heart that is more interested with what Jesus thinks than what others think. I miss the mark quite often. So if you hear me listing what sounds like spiritual credentials please slap me upside the head in a holy kind of way. And remind me that there is no value in working hard to impress anyone….not even God, especially not God. He loves me and my quirky ways and there’ s nothing I can do that will make Him love me any more than he already does. And that reality should be my motivation in being interested with what he thinks instead of everyone around me.