Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Confession 255: The Pastor's Wife

Call me lazy, but with the start of school (at which I work and just got promoted from paraprofessional to Teacher's Assistant), the start of play practice (of which I am directing) and the start of youth group (at which I am helping) I haven't had a lot of time to keep up on the blogging!!  I'm starting to get a schedule worked out, but it's definitely an adjustment period.  Therefore, I am re-posting a piece I wrote and published over on Cooking Up Faith a few weeks ago.  If you've already read it, I'm sorry.  If not, let me know what you think!!

Blessings and Peace,

To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.
1 Peter 5: 1-3

I met my husband at seminary.  He was working toward a Master of Divinity degree while I was working toward a Master’s in Christian Education.  I was drawn to him the first time I saw him.  It wasn’t long before I realized that I had met the man God intended to be the one I would walk with through this life.  Of course, that also meant that I would soon become “the pastor’s wife”.  That was not something I had ever planned on! 

I remember sitting in a council meeting when my husband and I were introduced to a new congregation some years ago.  After Chris had talked about some of the things he wanted to do, one of the members looked at me and asked, “So, what are you going to do in the church?”  I completely froze.  What was I going to do?  I had no idea there were any expectations for me! 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to serving the church.  God has equipped me with my own set of gifts and has given me opportunities to use them in every one of the congregations we have served.  However, it is Chris who was called by God at a young age to go into formal ministry.  It is a role he takes very seriously, and he throws his entire being into shepherding his flocks.  Therefore, I try and support him in that.  I serve as a confidant, a critic, a think tank, an editor, a fielder and a fan. 

One of the most difficult aspects of being a ministry spouse is watching the person you love be hurt by members of the congregation.  There can be a dark underside to church leadership where church members become more interested in personal power than in being a follower of Christ.  I have, on occasion, watched as Chris’ integrity has been attacked and as his intentions have been misrepresented and miss communicated.  It is heartbreaking as a spouse, because when he hurts, I hurt.

Furthermore, when your pastor’s family is hurting because of the church, the congregation’s ministry will suffer.  It’s so hard to motivate yourself to walk into the doors of a church and engage in relationships with people when your family is hurting because of the words and actions of fellow believers.  It’s hard for a pastor to engage in effective ministry when he/she is constantly feeling the need to put defenses into place.

Please don’t think that being part of a ministry family is not a rewarding experience.  I love this life that God has called us to!  I get the opportunity to love on and encourage people on a regular basis.  It’s one of my favorite things to do!!  I love leading women in Bible study, working with our youth and engaging in mission projects.  We are blessed right now to be serving a congregation that is full of Christ’s love.  They have adopted our children and seek to love and nurture and lead them into a life with Christ.  God has given us opportunities to bring others to him, to help our community, and to be in relationship with many different people.  God is working in the midst of our congregation, and what a joy it is to be able to work alongside him!!

Now, when someone asks me what I’m going to do for the church, I know what to say.  I’m going to do whatever God calls me to do in whatever fashion he wants it done.  And I’m going to continue to seek him and to grow in him so that when my race is finished he might say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Confession 244: Kindergarten

Our oldest son is starting Kindergarten tomorrow, and I have to confess that my husband and I are having a harder time than we expected letting him go.  My dad assures me that he will, indeed, come home again.  But it's so hard not to be there when they take these first steps into big-kid-hood!!  My husband wrote a beautiful article the other day that gets to the heart of what we're both feeling, I think.  So, I twisted his arm to let me share his words.  He doesn't like people to know he has a sensitive side! :-)

Blessings and Peace,

“Back To School”
Teacher meetings began last week, back to school or meet the teacher night is tomorrow and Thursday will be the first day of school.  Another year full of possibilities, another year full of potential.  Highs and lows, successes and failures, opportunities seized and opportunities lost, chances to shine and excel, new friends to meet, new love to explore, heartbreak to experience, victory and defeat, championships to be won and lost, and above all lessons learned.

These are just some of what is typically experienced during a typical school year, although we all know there is no such thing as a typical school year.  It begins with such promise and excitement, new clothes and hair styles, new school supplies and high hopes. 

This school year has me feeling a little sentimental.  On Thursday morning we send Garrett off to Kindergarten.  The new backpack has been purchased (Lego Star Wars, of course), all the supplies have been carefully purchased and placed in said backpack (complete with Spiderman pencil box), the school clothes have been carefully picked out and the excitement mounts.  Garrett has asked so many questions about school and what he might experience.  He is worried about people thinking he is silly.  He is worried that his favorite new shirt might not be all that cool. 

Daddy is worried too.  It seems like it was just yesterday that I held that little boy in my arms for the first time, him already holding his head up high and looking all over, taking in his surroundings and this strange new world he had just entered.  Now, in a couple of days he enters a new world where Mommy and Daddy can’t be there to catch him if he falls, we can’t be there to sooth him when someone hurts his feelings, we can’t be there when he needs us.   

Now, I know that he doesn’t need us as much as we think he does, but this new world he is excited about exploring is inevitably going to cause him joys and pains, he will meet new friends and also have his feelings hurt by others, he will learn many lessons, some through pain.  For a parent, standing back and watching, knowing that pain is going to come and that there is nothing I can do about it, is hard.  Our little boy isn’t just beginning school this week, he is entering a new world that is out of my control.

Countless reflections come to mind as I think about how God watches over us, his children, as sees all the pain and hurt that is in front of us.  As I think of the anxiety I have about Garrett starting school and going slightly beyond my control (although that boy has never been controllable), I wonder about the feelings God must have as He watches his children everyday hurting each other, making decisions that will lead to pain.  He could intervene, he could stay by us in a way that would ensure we never experience any of this, could protect us in a bubble and shield us from all potential harm.  He could do all that, but he doesn’t.  He knows that we will never become who we are created to be unless we experience pain and hurt, highs and lows, joys and sorrows.  God could protect us, but in the end, it would do us more harm.

So now, with my eyes starting to get misty as I think about walking away from Garrett on Thursday morning, leaving him alone to learn and experience, I must have faith that my Heavenly Father will be with him, (and me) as he begins to navigate this new, and not always easy, world.
As always, it is a pleasure to be your pastor and in ministry with you to a God who loves us enough to allow us to grow through all sorts of experiences.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Confession 243: Fan or Follower

For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.  Romans 2:13

My husband just began a sermon series on the book, Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman.  The premise of this book is that many of our churches in the United States are really good at making fans of Jesus, but not true followers.  He says that our sanctuaries have become more like stadiums, where pastors and worship teams work to make Jesus more attractive and appealing to folks to get them in the door.  Sunday worship becomes the week's entertainment, but not much more.  Churches work hard to make Jesus "cool", which is really the last thing Jesus ever wanted to be.

I finished up a Bible study this weekend on the life and teachings of the Apostle Paul.  I was trying to decide where to go next.  I like alternating Bible study using book guides with Bible study using God as a guide! :-)  I decided to light on the book of Romans for a bit because, quite frankly, I don't like it.  I know that in the realms of theological study this statement is absolute heresy!!  The Book of Romans is the foundation of our faith!  Martin Luther actually taught that it should be memorized word for word by all Christians!  However, I must confess that often when a passage of Romans is presented to me to read all I hear in my head is: "Wahmp, whamp whamp, whamp whamp...."  (Do you get the Charlie Brown reference?)  It's too heady for me, which is precisely why I felt convicted to spend a little more time digging deeper with the Spirit through Romans.  And what did God give me?  A verse that ties in perfectly with the things I've been thinking about these past few days!!  God never ceases to amaze and inspire me! :-)

Paul says in verse 2:13 that it is not those who hear the law who are righteous, but those who do something with it.  It's not enough to go to church every couple of Sundays and politely listen to what the pastor is saying about the Word of God.  It's not enough to go to a women's event once or twice a year and feel good about God.  It's not enough to listen to K-Love while driving to and from work and occasionally humming along to the songs.  That's what fans do.  God doesn't want fans.  He wants followers.  "Come, follow me," Jesus said.  

If we simply take in the Word, then our lives never change.  God wants to come bursting into our hearts and start rearranging furniture, not sit down and have a cup of tea!  The life of a follower is one of action.  We hear God's Word and act on it.  We bring his Word to others.  We seek out ways to show his love to others.  We think and meditate on his Word.  We let it soak into our souls so that it may pour out of us into the world.  Do you know what Jesus called those who merely heard and recited the Law of Moses, rather than putting it into practice?  White sepulchres; pretty tombs.  There was nothing there beneath the surface.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to be a pretty tomb.  I want my life to be vibrant.  I want deep springs of water bubbling forth from my soul.  I want to be a follower, running out on the field instead of sitting in the stands.  It's hard work, there's not a lot of glory here on Earth, it's not glamorous and there's a greater chance of injury.  But Paul says God's followers will be declared righteous in the end.  And what could we ever hope to earn more than the favor of our Lord and Creator?

Blessings and Peace,

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Confession 242: A Special Guest

I'm so excited today to be hosting one of my favorite bloggers on my site. Cooking Up Faith is a beautiful blog full of wonderful thoughts on faith and some fabulous recipes to boot! After you read this post, go on over and look around at Cooking Up Faith. You'll definitely go back for more!!

Ever feel like you're one step away from falling deep into a pit? We often question every decision we've ever made, and the ones we are making even now.  

 We wonder if we've got this all together - work, parenting, as a child of God...are we doing enough...are getting it right?? 

A tightrope walker will usually be okay on the rope as long as she's balanced and looking straight ahead. 


But when she looks down her foot starts to slip, her legs wobble, and she's one second away from falling.

She falls, but a cushion below catches her, bounces her back up.

When I said, "My foot is slipping," your love, O Lord, supported me. 
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. 
Psalm 94:18-19

We fall daily. Not so much our failures. Though we have many in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation, no judgment, no punishment. 

It's our eyes that fall - away from God and on to ourselves.

Our feet start to slip, our legs wobble, and we are one second away from falling into a pit of despair, anxiety, depression, insecurities. 

Yet, His love is there, His Word is there. We open up our Bibles and our hearts call out to Him; and our cushion catches us.

And we bounce back up. 

One of the best things I've ever done for myself is buy this little book...

It is full of scriptures arranged by topic; such as prayer, motherhood, God's love, joy, strength, ect. 

I carry it around with me throughout the day. I even bring it with me in the car and read through it at stop lights. 

Being constantly in His Word is our constant source of hope and help in this fallen world. 

May our eyes not fall...may they be steady and balanced on Him. 

How gracious God will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.
Isaiah 30:19

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