Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Travel, Uncategorized

New Friends and Local Places: Germany Weeks 4 & 5

On the fourth and fifth weeks of our time in Germany we stayed close to home (feels a little bit odd to use that reference) with the exception of just a couple of day trips around the area.  It was nice to get our homeschooling in and have a little bit of a routine around the house.  Lynn worked upstairs in Bro. Walters office area getting sermons prepared for Sundays, working on the Bible Study and trying to work ahead for when we returned to the states.

The kids were able to get lessons in and even get ahead a little bit in their lesson schedules.  Meanwhile, I was still plugging away at trying to learn my way around the grocery store and run a house in a foreign country. We were also able to do some outreach and passing out invitations to the church with some tracts. 

It’s a little bit hard, with the language barrier to start good conversations unless we can come across someone who speaks English very well.  Passing out these tracts is about the best we can do in this area.  We’re just praying that the Lord will use it to further his kingdom some way.

So, keeping it real here, my Sanguine/Melancholy personality has struggled a little bit with the German people as a group.  When I go to the store or anywhere publicly it is with some anxiety. People, in general, don’t smile or wave or even sometimes acknowledge your presence.  I’ve even been hit with carts at the grocery store when I’ve paused in front of a freezer section too long. Of course there are exceptions to this every now and again.  However, coming from Oklahoma, where people wave from their car if they don’t even know you or neighbors smile and wave as they are out in their yards, it seems very cold and stoic over here.  My personal bent is to smile and wave at people and they just think I’m plumb crazy here in Germany.  I don’t think it’s a meanness, but it sure does make me sad and certainly matches the mood of the area on the cold, gray, and cloudy winter days. 

Some have explained to us that where Americans tend to be friendly on the outset publicly, they are perceived as superficial by the German people because their friendship seems to be fleeting when needs arise.  Whereas, the German people may seem unapproachable, but once you make friends here, they are loyal, real friends who will be there for you in good times and bad.  Of course, both of these viewpoints are gross generalizations of both people groups, but I can see where they may think these thoughts, though I would hope it wouldn’t be true of me as an American.  And yes, it did make me a bit self-conscious for a while as my personality isn’t going to change just because I’m here, but I’ll let God sort that out in people’s minds.

However, one of the blessings of being in a mission work for the length of time we are here is that we get a chance to make some new friendships.  In spite of my above statements about the Germans as a whole, the people of Rhein River Baptist Church have been so welcoming to our family, and in these weeks in particular we were able to get to know two familys a bit better and spend some time with them. 

Our first outing was to Luisenpark in Mannheim with Evan and Katarina (Kat) and their two kids Robert and Addy.  Apparently, every winter Mannheim puts on something called Winter Lights each night at the park through the end of February.  I like this idea rather than just having Christmas lights through December.  It kind of makes January and February less dreary.  We met at 3:00 at the park and when I say park I mean a large scale kind of park.  In Ponca City, our parks are on the small side, maybe a walking path, definitely a playground area, or even a splash pad, but this was not like that at all.  I add this because I wore the wrong shoes!  I was thinking something like, “Oh a nice little park with a few lights and maybe a duck pond or something – ballet flats will do.” Uh – nope!  More like walking for mileS and yes the “s” is capitalized.  My Rheumatoid Arthritis was not very happy with me and my joints afterward, but it was so worth it!  This park was amazing!! There were, of course play areas for the kids, several giant chess sets, a bit of a zoo, storks roaming around, gardens, a Chinese tea house and just miles and miles of beautiful picnic, walking and play area.  We ate at the restaurant on the property as the sun went down and then walked it all again to see the winter lights. 

These were just breathtaking.  Even better was the company.  Evan and Kat are really special people.  He is American and she a Russian/German.  They had great stories and history to give us as we walked and chatted.  She told me how her family were part of a group of Germans who had lived in Russia for a time.  They had a community just on the border that was all German speaking.  I had never heard of this before.  They both have a love for the Lord that seems genuine and sincere and growing.  We so appreciated them taking the time to show us this wonderful place and educate us a bit on Germany and its people.   In a day and age when time is so valuable, we appreciated them using the greater part of a day to get to know us and host us.

A few days later we went to Speyer, one of the oldest cities in Germany founded by the Romans.  We were hosted for the day by Rene and Marina and their three kiddos, Leah, Timmy and Baby Ben.  Rene and Marina are both German and this was Rene’s hometown. 

This town was A-mazing! It had that old European feel to it with people out and about everywhere! Lots of little shops and a town clocktower which is actually called the Old Gate that was part of the city gate in medieval times. It is about 180 feet high and was built somewhere between 1230 and 1250. I couldn’t help but to feel compelled to touch it as we passed under the archway – to feel the history that it contained in some way.

Rene and Marina walked us all over the town visiting old churches. Old is a relative term here as one of them was “only”100 years old which would be very old in my American experience. However, they also showed us the Dreifaltigkeitskirche (and no, I cannot even begin to pronunciate this!) which was built in the early 1700s as a part of the protestant movement. When he was a child, Rene’s church family met in this church building for a while.

Then, to beat both of those, is the Speyer Cathedral which was founded in 1030! As you walk around this cathedral you can see the difference in stonework as it has been through many war times and has needed repairs through the ages.

We ended the day with the most amazing food at a local Greek restaurant called Korfu. My mouth is watering just remembering this meal!

More importantly we got to know Rene and Marina on a more personal level and consider them new friends as well. As a matter of fact, later that week their baby, Ben had an accident in the home and crushed his little pointer finger. It was scary for all as we prayed for them to be able to save his finger. They had to do a surgery to try to save it and now, some 5 weeks later it’s doing so much better, but he still has to jump through some hoops before we know if the finger is saved. He was the cutest little patient in the hospital though, and still had the ability to give us all a smile!

Getting to know all of these church members better has been a blessing to our family. We came to be a blessing to them, but, per usual and praise be to God, the opposite is true.

Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, My Interests, Travel, Uncategorized

A Fairytale Valentines Week: Germany Week 3

On our third week in Germany we were starting feel a little bit more comfortable in our surroundings.  This is when we decided it would be a good time to venture out on our first rail trip.  It was the week of Valentines Day and my birthday, so I had the perfect place in mind Hohenschwangau!  Yes, it is a mouthful.  This is located in the southern part of Germany in the Bavarian Alps region.  What I specifically wanted to do was visit the Neuschwanstein Castle – yes, also a mouthful.  (Honestly, I don’t know how German kids pass their spelling tests!)  This castle is famous to Americans because it was Walt Disney’s inspiration for Cinderella’s castle at the one and only Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  It’s famous to Germans because of its mysterious builder King Ludwig II who died before finishing the castle. 

We left on Wednesday morning of this week after our Tuesday midweek Bible Study.  We were so excited to actually take the train somewhere!  (I will insert here that I am not a great photographer.  I realize this is not a good quality in someone who keeps a blog.  However, I get caught up in the moment so much, that I just end up taking it all in through my eyes and forgetting to pull out my camera or pulling it out too late, but I think I got some good shots by which to remember this fabulous trek.)  The train is nice to take because it saves energy mostly.  It can still be long because of all of the stops along the way, but nobody had to drive or navigate us so that we all arrived ready to enjoy. 

I thought maybe that we would have to cancel the trip.  Lynn woke up with a mysterious pain in his elbow in the night.  When he awoke in the morning it was red and swollen.  By the time we arrived at our destination, the picturesque town of Füssen, it was huge, red, swollen and excruciating to touch!  So, though we enjoyed the trip down, he was constantly reminded of his pain with each movement.  We decided that maybe we should find the apothecary and they could direct us to a clinic or something.  Thankfully, the lady at the apothecary could speak enough English to tell us where we needed to go, but her English was broken enough that we misunderstood some of the directions.  We ended up walking around in the freezing night looking for this clinic!  When we finally found it the Dr. there was stupefied as to what the cause was.  She said they could do a blood test, but that would require him to stay in the hospital overnight – not something we wanted to do.  She didn’t see any reason to believe that it was an infection and thought maybe it was gout.  However, she wasn’t completely sure, as this doesn’t usually show in the elbow in a man of Lynn’s health.  She basically gave us ibuprofen and sent us on our way.  It has since gone down, but we’re putting it on a list of things to check out when we return to the States.

Since we were on foot for this trip, we decided that we should have the hospital call us a couple of taxis to get back to our Airbnb apartment.  Lynn, Katie and Jarod went in the first and Megan and I took the second car.  We had quite a scare as he drove as if we were in some kind of high-speed car chase!  Then he dropped us off a block from our apartment.  Since he couldn’t or wouldn’t speak English we just laughed and walked the rest of the way back.

In the morning we made our way on the bus over to Hohenschwangau to see the castles.  Yes, Ludwig II’s father also built a castle in the town which was a beautiful tour as well.  Here are some pics outside of that castle.

It was finally time to get up the hill to take our tour.  This was the exciting part of our day.  The castle sits up on top of a hill.  A hill that takes over 30 minutes to walk!  There is the option of a bus that can take people part way up the hill, but since it had snowed recently the bus was not running.  We decided to go with option three – a horse drawn carriage that would take us up part way.  However, the line was so long for the carriage that we missed our allotted time.  Thankfully, Lynn talked to the people at the castle and they allowed us to go on the next English-speaking tour.  It really was a marvelous experience to see these beautiful castles!  Like we stepped into a fairytale land.  We were able to linger around and take some fun pics outside of the castle.  On our carriage ride back down the hill we squeezed in with a group of Asian ladies who seemed to be having a fun time.  I noticed the woman beside me was trying to take a selfie, so I kept ducking out of the way until she finally let me know that she was trying to take the selfie with me!  Then they all started taking pics of our family!  They spoke little English but were able to tell us they were from Korea.  After a slight pause they clarified “SOUTH Korea!”  When we saw the same group of ladies in a store down in the town, one of them approached Jarod and rubbed his face!  Guess they thought he was as cute as his momma thinks he is 😊. 

Valentine’s Day at the Castle!

After our castle tours, we boarded the train again and headed for Innsbruck Austria.  It was only a three-hour train ride away and we thought it would be a great experience to get to see a little part of another country.  We weren’t going to have much time for exploring as we needed to get back to Mannheim for Church on Sunday.  So, we decided to take the cable car from the middle of town up into the mountains.  Before we went on this trip, I made sure that we all had new hats, gloves, coats and boots.  I was ready for snow and mountains.  What I was not ready for were the breathtaking views and the warm air!  It was amazing to be surrounded by so much snow but not feel frigid.  Check out some of our views at 7,400 feet above sea level!

Looking down on the city of Innsbruck, Austria

 Coming from Oklahoma we had never been skiing (well, the girls have tried out skiing in Nebraska, but, well…).  We didn’t try here either.  However, we had a blast watching these crazy risk takers!  We watched some of them tackle the slopes that were at a 70degree angle down.  One lady that rode the cable car up was at least 70 years old and said she had been skiing this area for 14 years.  At the next stop down from the summit was a landing area where most of the skiers hung out with a restaurant and beach chairs set up on a deck looking down the mountain.  At this point we watched the ski jumpers doing their thing making my heart skip a beat each time one came over the hill. 

We took the cable car down another to another stop where we at lunch at a little Alpine café.  The whole area had kind of an American beach town vibe with skiers instead of surfers.  I was so grateful for the experience.

Each week we’ve learned new things on this journey of ours.  One thing we learned on Friday evening as we traveled home was that the Friday night trains are crowded and that means you stand or sit wherever you can if there are no seats open.  So, we ended up sitting.  This wasn’t too bad until the train came to a halt before we even reached Stuttgart.  An announcement came on over the speaker, but we couldn’t understand as it was all in German with no translation follow up.  After about 20 minutes like this Lynn finally asked some of the men around him if any spoke English and if they could tell us what’s going on.  One young man said, “Something was blocking the tracks.”  This is when another man approached and let Lynn know that was a kind of “code” for a suicide occurred on the train tracks.  Apparently, this isn’t a rare thing in Germany as there are hundreds of suicides on the train tracks every year delaying trains countrywide.  I’ve read since, that the number has even thought to be upwards of about 800 per year.  Goodness, what a horrific thought!  As we waited for the next hour and a half, Lynn kept talking to the man who had shared that information with him.  Giving him as much of the gospel as he could as the man was clearly an atheist.  However, he was very congenial and they both enjoyed talking with one another so extensively.  We have prayed for this man since then.  Praying that God would open his eyes and convict him of his need for salvation.  It was a terrible cause for delay, but a divine appointment indeed for one man.

We finally made it home much later than expected, but thankfully we had Saturday to sleep in and recuperate.  We’re still getting used to the different schedule of the church over here.  There is only one service on Sundays, and it is at 4:00 pm.  We hardly know what to do with ourselves on Sunday mornings, so we’ve been having our own family time of listening to sermons from our home Church’s App so that we can keep up with what our own Pastor is preaching back home.  It’s been a sweet time of fellowship for us.  Just to keep it real though, I may struggle a little bit when we return, and I can’t have Sunday morning church in my pjs.  “

Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, My Interests, Travel, Uncategorized

First Impressions: Germany Week 1

Exhaustion thy name is jet-lag!  I cannot recall when I have been more physically tired in my life than upon the day we landed in Germany.  We flew out on Monday Jan. 28th at noon from Oklahoma.  We landed at 8am Jan. 29th in Frankfurt, Germany.  However, to us it was more like 1am!  The Clarks met us at the airport to help us get our rental car and settled into our apartment for the week.  They encouraged us to NOT give in to the overwhelming desire to take a nap, but one by one we fell prey to this debilitating fatigue.  I believe someone could have performed surgery on any one of us without the threat of our awakening.  Truly this was awkward in many ways.  For one, we have never been to their home in Germany.  I was hoping my kids, as well as Lynn and I would give a polite and warming first impression.  But the luring weariness, just controlled us all.  Here I was excited to be in a new country and see my friends’ home for the first time and I simply laid out on her sofa and fell asleep!  When I awoke looking for Lynn, I went up to their third floor bedroom/office to find Bro. Walter studying at his desk while my husband was practically passed out across their bed!  I didn’t remember having this feeling when we went to Romania a few years ago, but it was the real deal now.

Our random greeter at the rental apartment we stayed in the first week.

That first evening we went to the Bible Study that they hold on Tuesday nights at the church.  We were all nervous but also excited to meet everyone.  Bro. Walter did a good job leading the Bible discussion, but I must be honest – I cannot even remember what the discussion was as the room was spinning while I struggled to stay awake.  At one point I thought I was falling out of my chair!  My only hope is that I was able to keep my eyelids open enough that nobody would notice! 

After dinner we went to a family’s home that were members of the church.  When they can, they hold a prayer meeting on Thursday evenings.  We were impressed with their sincerity and openness with the prayer time for their personal needs as well as the church needs.  They were all very welcoming and we enjoyed the fellowship after our prayer time.  This is where we were introduced to all that the Google Translator App can do!

The view from our little apartment. Yay for snow! Boo for parking, only allowed on one side of the street and usually full. We had to do a lot of walking that week.

  Driving was an intimidating concept to say the least.  Only Lynn was on the rental as a driver since we would only have this vehicle for the first week until the Clarks left for the States.  However, as I observed and learned the rules of the road along with him, I was overwhelmed.  There aren’t any stop signs over here, just turnabouts.  This is a good thing in my opinion as it keeps the traffic flowing.  However, there are many more pedestrians and bicycles than what we ever see in the States.  Our family joke has been repeating Bro. Walter when he told Lynn, “Watch out for the bikes and pedestrians.  They really frown upon hitting them over here.”  As if they don’t frown upon that back home.  But we understood what he meant, they have rights over here and are in more abundance over here than at home in Oklahoma.  So added to the observation of the driver is the roundabout rules, the yielding rules to the side roads on your right and the bikes and walkers.  This doesn’t even touch on the Autobahn and all the rules of that road.  you can practically feel the breeze as cars speed by at warp speed.  Believe me there are no problems with people dawdling in the left lane around here!

This guy was hanging on the wall at the Schnitzel restaurant making me feel guilty throughout my meal.

Schnitzel:  Walter and Dalene took Lynn and I into Heidelberg on night three.  By now, we were still tired, but able to function like normal humans.   This is where we tried Schnitzel for the first time.  Basically it’s chicken fried pork cutlet with any of 101 sauces over it.  The atmosphere was great, the company was great, the conversation totally enjoyable.  The schnitzel -meh.  I think it will have to grow on me.  I guess I have 100 more options to try before my final verdict, but so far, I do not care what Julie Andrews says, this is NOT one of my favorite things.  We walked around Heidelberg that evening and totally enjoyed the old European flair of this amazing city.  The castle was lit up above us on the hill and was awe inspiring to behold!  Lynn and I both felt like we were at an amusement park in the States that was built to look like we were in an old European city …but, no, it was real!

Heidelberg at night! The castle is so pretty all lit up!

This leads me to my next impression:

  Grocery Shopping:  Dalene took the girls and I into town to grocery shop on Friday.  We started with the bottle recycling area. 

Fun times recycling plastic bottles! Seriously, we need this back in the States.

Side note:  Germany is green extreme!  This is not a criticism, it’s an admirable thing.  The garbage isn’t even near the same as they recycle everything they can, so there are four trash bins, paper/plastic, compostable, glass, and then the “everything else” bin.  As good a thing as it is, I’ll admit, I suffered from a paralyzing fear of putting something in the wrong trash bin for the first week or so. 

Basic run of the mill garbage cans in Germany. Can you see why I got nervous?

Anyway, we were walked through the steps of taking plastic bottles to recycle so we could get credit on our groceries.  This wasn’t much different than when I was a little girl and we would take in our glass pop bottles to get dimes at the grocery store.  We were at the store for a couple of hours I’m sure as Dalene showed me the differences and how to find the things I’m used to finding.  This proved to be one of my biggest culture hurdles at first when I tried this on my own and felt lost and rushed.  Thankfully, that church members who introduced us to the camera feature on the Google Translate App saved my life as a shopper!   I can scan the shelves at the store and translate items so as to choose the right one.  It’s not 100%, but it sure is a life saver!  It still takes me a couple of hours to grocery shop, but some of that is my own dilly dallying around the store.

How Cool is this grocery cart feature! There’s a little extra shelf that flips out when needed. I could also see myself using this as a step stool #shortgirlproblems. As you can see all stores work like Aldi back in the States. You have to put a coin in to get your cart and you get it back when you return the cart. You also have to bring your own grocery bags/baskets or buy them from the store.

Bratwurst (brot vurst):  On Saturday of our first week, we went with the Clarks into downtown Mannheim.  It’s a bustling large city like most I’ve been to, so the size wasn’t too unfamiliar.  Of course it mixes the old with the new as some parts of the city or buildings are older than our own country!  It was here we tried our first pretzel on the street – oh so delicious! Then, for our first real German bratwurst. Of course I didn’t get pics because I was too busy stuffy my face. This too was delicious and large!  It was a delightful day navigating around this large metropolitan area.  Our favorite part was the marketplace that had stands with fresh cheeses, olives, flowers and the list goes on.  It was abuzz with people everywhere.  It was unfamiliar with the language barrier and trying to navigate a large city, but we felt at ease having the Clarks with us as guides.

Money:  We fast learned that people in Germany do most of their transacting with cash only.  Even Burger King!  This wouldn’t have been a big problem but that even though we had gone to our bank before ever leaving the U.S. to make sure our ATM card would work, we still ran into problems.  After a few emails with our bank’s fraud dept. things were set straight and we were able to access our accounts and navigate on our own without having to constantly trade money with our friends. 

Rhein River Baptist Church: Mannheim Germany

Church:  The whole reason we are here!  We went with the Clarks in the morning to a service of another missionary in town who holds his services all in German.  It was a good service, well as much as we could get out of it.  We did feel our novice status here as we were observers more than participators in the service. 

     However, in the afternoon at the service with the church for which we came to help, we were able to feel more at ease.  They share the same building as the church that holds the morning service, but minister to an entirely different demographic of people.  Rhein River Baptist Church is made up of an international group who all speak English due to their diverse backgrounds.  There are people from Brazil, Russia, the U.S., England and Africa all in one little body of believers. I love this diversity as it feels like a glimpse of Heaven to me!  Sometimes, in day to day life we get caught up with our own little part of the world and forget that we have brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world!  I find it such an energizing feeling when I am able to meet people like this!  Of course this is also a relieving detail since Lynn doesn’t have to learn an entirely different language or work through an interpreter for this short 3-month stint as filling the pulpit. 

     Since it was also the first Sunday of the month, they have a time of pizza and fellowship after the service.  This was an enjoyable chance to get to know some of the members and chat for a while.

The Clark family. Our favorite Germany missionaries.

We felt like we were getting our land legs as the jet lag was subsiding and we were learning new things each and every day.  That one week felt like an entire month, but we were in for more as we approached the time of the Clarks leaving us for the States…

Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Daily Musings, Life Lessons

Time-Out: Germany Intro.

Ready or not here we go!!

 Time – it’s always such a fleeting commodity in this life, especially when it isn’t managed well.  Now, that mine is slowing down for a short time, I can look back and see that more clearly.  Excuses are always abounding, I started working as the Pastoral Secretary at our church, it just kind of happened one day while I was filling in while our staff went through some changes.  Then, after a while it became a permanent thing.  It’s a blessing, and the timing was right, but being the part time secretary is a bit of an oxymoron at a bustling church like ours.  We have one of the busiest calendars in the land.  With that comes the people work, which usually is the heap of the time spent.  Paired with continuing to home school my kids and those same kids getting older and busier themselves, can lead to a full-on anxiety attack on any given day.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the work, I mean, love it!  I get to sit in an office across from my husband’s office every day.  We have five ministers on staff, and I love every one of them!  I love their wives and the other part time staffers as well.  I mean, we have THE best staff in the land.  I would vacation with them all!  We work well together and even get frustrated well with each other.  The humor is never lacking in our office.  Even when I have a bad day, these guys know how to make me smile.  However, I still fall prey to mismanaging my time – often.  It’s a gift, or maybe a curse that I have.  My personality is bent towards spontaneity, which can be good when fun is to be had or I get a creative spurt that needs to be followed.  But day to day, it can get out of hand and that’s exactly where I’ve been this past year.  Anxiety city.  And then God….

He knows what we need, and he knows what we want, and he cares about them both!  Oh I’m not saying that we always get those things that we want, nor should we, but like any good parent (even better!) he allows for those wants when it works within his will.  That is exactly what he’s done for this family. 

Our time-out started back in July 2018.  Pastor walked in one day and stopped by at my desk.  “What do you think your husband would say if I asked your family to go to Germany for several months to fill in for our missionaries who need a furlough?” he asked.  “Yes! We’re there!” was my immediate response.  Of course I thought he was only joking at the time until he assured me, he was serious.  He went on to explain that the Clark family needed to come back to the states for several months.  They have one daughter graduating from Bible College over here, another who is ready to graduate her home school and is preparing to start college next year and he also needs to visit some supporting churches and new churches too while he’s here. However, he doesn’t have anyone who can take over the work he is in while he is gone.  Being the wanderlust side of this family I kind of figured that my spontaneous response would be met with a more practical view by my husband and there would probably be some reason why this would not be a good idea.  Not that he is a downer, it just seemed like a possibility that was far too awesome to actually happen.  Imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when his initial reaction was an excited “Yes!” as well!  Of course, we still took time to pray about it, and there were plenty of excuses that would prevent this from happening, but here are the awesome reasons why both Lynn and I were on board so quickly:

  1.  Friends in Need:    We came to Central 21 years ago when the Clark family was just starting their internship.  We were both young couples excited about new ministry.  This led to a friendship that would span continents and time.  Dalene and I became fast friends.  They already had two girls, but we were pregnant at the same time with my now oldest, Katie and their third, Kyndall, (who are both going off to college this next year! Sniff sniff).  I still remember us with our babies at the airport seeing them off when they initially left for Germany.  We’ve always picked up where we left off, whenever they’ve been able to come back on furloughs.  Now, there was a legitimate need at this work they are in and we would be able, as friends and colleagues to be a help to them.  How awesome is that?!
  2. Answer to prayer for our son:  Just last summer, while our girls were away at camp and we had only our son at home, we had an emotional discussion with him about his sisters.  He was feeling a pressure and desire to be closer to our oldest but felt like he just didn’t connect with her due to the age difference among other things.  He was in tears just thinking about her going off to college in only one year and not getting that chance.  Just as we, as parents, were absorbing the idea that our family was on the brink of change with our kids growing up and leaving, Jarod, too, was rolling around these thoughts.  We encouraged him to pray about opportunity over this next year to grow closer as a family while we had the time.   Then, along comes an offer of just the 5 of us in Germany for three months!  What better way to grow closer as a family than through stepping out of all of our comfort zones together with no peers along for the ride or crazy work, school, youth group schedules to contend with?
  3. Opportunity for life decisions:  Our middle daughter, Megan, has wanted to be a missionary since she was a little girl.  Her hero as a child was Amy Carmichael, she even dressed like her one year for our fall festival.  However, last year, she read a book.  It was a good book, that was challenging teens to consider their futures.  Sounds good doesn’t it?  However, she seemed burdened by a statement by the author who challenged readers to reconsider their own desires and make sure it was God’s will – also, a good thing to do.  She seemed to be confused and burdened by this, though, wondering if she was just in love with the romantic idea of going to far off places as a missionary or if it was really God’s will for her.  Again, what better way to get a taste than to actually go on a mission trip, not for a week but for three months.  Getting to feel what it is like to be away from home, comfort zones, and all things familiar.  Yet, she gets a chance to do this with, at least, the comfort of her family with her and the knowledge that this is just a short-term commitment.  We’re praying that God will show her His desire for her during this time.
  4. Time with our oldest:  Just as our son was wrestling with the fact that our family dynamic is about to change, we have been wrestling too.  I absolutely love where we are right now with the ages of our kiddos.  We embarked on this parenting adventure knowing that we were raising them to send them out.  However, the fact of that time coming soon, weighs heavy on this momma’s heart.  I’m a bundle of conflicted emotions.  Excited to see where God will lead her and how He will use her and also heartbroken at the thought of missing her.  Not seeing her face daily, hearing her laughter, seeing what cool pictures she has drawn recently sitting on her bed listening to music, or even just enjoying a movie together or dinner time conversations.  It’s natural, it’s good…it’s heart achingly coming too soon!  I treasure the thought of 12 weeks to just huddle in close with my babies and absolutely absorbing each moment with them.
  5. My desires:  I have long wanted to be able to take my kids to see things in this world!  We’ve done the Disneyworld fun trips, but I have expressed multiple times how I’ve wanted to take them on a mission trip so that their eyes may affect their hearts.  We just haven’t had the opportunity.  The trips that Second Man and I have been blessed to go on were when it just wouldn’t be feasible to take our little ones along.   Not only missions work, but also, seeing some of the wonderful things in this great big world that God has created, has been my desire for my kids.  Well, here it is just plopped in our laps.  It isn’t the sole reason for accepting the call, but it sure was a fabulous extra!  What a blessing the leadership of our church has been as well.  When Pastor first posed this to the deacons of our church, one of the first questions was, “Will they get to do some traveling?”  This is so important.  Second Man is an extraordinarily hard worker and even hard on himself to be busy about God’s work.  He’s not a workaholic, but he is exceptionally careful with the stewardship of the ministry in which God has put him.  The assurance of our deacons and Pastor being behind the idea of us getting to use some time to travel while in Europe freed up his conscience to be able to do so.
  6. Reward:   This is a personal matter and small on the whole scale, but special to us, nonetheless.  We truly are hoping that we can consider it a reward for something personal to us, that I don’t even want to give detail about here.  However, we, as a family gave something up recently that was both enjoyable and a desire of ours.  We felt led out of conviction to give it up and it hasn’t been easy, both socially and personally.  I don’t give details, because it truly isn’t something that I would want others to think I am imposing on them or judging them about.  But I do believe in a God of rewards and can’t help but consider that maybe that would play a part in this.  I won’t truly know that until I reach Heaven and get to ask Him about it, but for now, I know that this is a blessing in our lives!
  7. Time:  The mere logistics of this trip lend a look at time.  Though Second Man will be preaching each week, leading a Bible study and discipling an individual who is a shut in, his schedule and mine are both extremely lightened while we are in Germany.  We need this.  We both need it physically, as stress due to schedules, extended family issues, and other life pressures has taken a small toll on the both of us.  I was diagnosed this past year with Rheumatoid Arthritis and am still trying to navigate my way in this new journey.  He has suffered from heart palpitations among other physical ailments that all tend to come from stress and…well…getting older.  We can’t deny that little tidbit, now can we?  We both plan to use this time to work on our physical, spiritual and mental health.  This is such a luxury that everyday normal life doesn’t always give us.  How blessed we are! 
  8. Opportunity to be used:  How honoring the thought that God can use us to help a missionary and to get minister to people in a foreign land.  How honoring the thought to do that even at home!  I never want to miss the opportunity to be used by God!  There is no great feeling in this world!

God’s just so good!  I can’t wait to see what He’s gonna do!

Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife

FINALLY! After Nine long months…..

Well, finally after nine long months…you thought I was gonna say I had a baby or something didn’t you?  Not so much.  However, there is a big change that has finally been announced publicly at church and in our family about which 2nd man and I are extremely excited. I’m gonna backtrack about nine or ten months to when it all began (at least for us).

     Last June of 2011 2nd man and I found ourselves having a heart to heart on the back porch of the chow hall at Indian Creek Baptist Camp.  It was at this time that we both started to realize that God seemed to be working something in the both of us to move us out of youth ministry.  This may seem negative having happened at a youth camp, but it truly wasn’t.  We weren’t having a complaint fest or anything like that.  We were actually having a great week at camp and enjoying the kids tremendously.   There was just yhis urging that had been placed in both of our hearts that seemed to be letting us know this was the time. 

I can’t speak for him, but I was full of butterflies and all sorts of thoughts and plans immediately after our talk.  As a woman, wife and mom, I was already trying to figure out “how do we do this?”  Sorting through thoughts like, “How does one sell a house in this economy?” and “where will God lead us?”  Also thoughts of, “I love my church and will anyone else love us like this?”   “What about the kids?” was another biggie.  2nd man still didn’t feel called to a senior pastorate, but he was feeling called out of the youth ministry aspect, so it also made me wonder about our ages and so forth.  Knowing God had it all sorted out was a relief in my heart and mind, but a woman still likes to know the plan ya know. 

      When we arrived back at the church, and I mean immediately when we arrived, Pastor met 2nd man and I in 2nd man’s office.  He had just found out while we were away, that the Outreach minister and his family were moving to Texas!   We were totally blown away as this was not on our radar at all.   2nd man jokingly said something like, “maybe I’ll take that job.”  To which Pastor didn’t laugh but responded seriously with, “actually I was going to talk to you about that.  If you at all feel like it’s time to move out of youth ministry, I would like you to consider stepping into this role of adult ministries and outreach.”  2nd man told him we’d pray about it, but I knew immediately that God had orchestrated this timing perfectly.  Imagine my sigh of relief when I (as a wife and mom) realized that we weren’t going to be uprooted physically.  

    What I didn’t plan for was the timeframe in which all of this would take place.  I now look back and see God working it all out perfectly.  Unfortunately (or so we thought at the time), the timing of the Kelsey family leaving wasn’t the best.  College graduation had already taken place, and most all of the newly graduated youth ministers were already taken or involved in internships.  We hoped the pastor’s son, who was interning in Chicago, would end up taking the position. However, Pastor wisely wanted to see what God’s will was with the opportunity there before he approached his son with the position at Central Baptist.  His son ended up being called to the church there in Chicago, which, by the way, has turned out to be a wonderful situation for him.  So, now here we were, looking at least at another school year before we could find someone.

That’s where the beauty of God’s timing and planning came into play.  In those months instead of just “checking out”, 2nd man and I totally embraced the “lasts” knowing that we wouldn’t be doing this anymore.  Nobody else knew about the changes except pastor,  his wife and the leadership.  It made it a sweet time for us though.

      I liken it to pregnancy (at least my own personal experiences with being pregnant).  I’ve always thought it brilliant of God to give women those nine months to prepare both physically and emotionally.  He leads women through thoughts of fear and apprehension to excitement and expectation.  Then, towards the end of the pregnancy you’re just ready to accept it and embrace the change that is coming.  Then on the day of delivery you go back to through all of those emotions in a matter of hours.  By the end of the day you have this new baby and are ready to take on the challenge.  That’s how this change has been for us.  We’ve run the gamut of emotion from apprehension, to excitement of walking down memory lane.  Now, we’re ready to embrace this new baby!  What’s totally cool is that we don’t have to move and can still see the teens we’re leaving.

      Some may notice that I say we a lot here.  Those in ministry may understand this more than others.  I know we’re talking about 2nd man’s job here, but ministry is so different.  Yes, he is definitely the one laboring here and the spiritual giant that God is using.  But, we do look at ourselves as a team in all areas.  He asked me to write out exactly what all I did for him as a youth pastor’s wife so that he can pass on some of those duties to the new man. It was a pretty long list of stuff.  Nothing showy or out front, but a ton of behind the scenes, secretarial, assistant kind of things that have been extremely time and mind consuming.  Will I continue to do this?  Yes, of course.  However, I anticipate the time and stress consumption being far less in adult ministries.  No more dress code cop for me, and… no more fundraising or youth account, and no more all nighters -Woo hoo! 

    Oh, I will definitely miss some things too.  In youth ministry there are a lot of camps and retreats where you’re exposed to lots of different preaching and fun bonding times with the teens.  I may be weird here, but I’m really gonna miss camp.  I love camp!  It was at camp that I first got to know 2nd man. It was at camp where my life was turned to God, and it was at camp that 2nd man and I felt the leading to move to a different ministry.  Yes, camp is going to be greatly missed.  (except for the bugs and bunks of course). 

       This past Sunday, Pastor finally announced that the church has hired a new Youth pastor.  I am so glad the cat is out of the bag.  Some think it will be hard for 2nd man and me to give it over, but I really don’t anticipate that.  Because of that whole nine months we’ve really been able to process through the whole change, and are ready to move on.  When Bro. Russell and his wife came to teach in front of the youth, I was listening not only as a youth pastor’s wife, but also as a mom.   Our oldest daughter will be in the youth department in just another year.  We’ve had a vested interest in making sure we bring on the right guy.  As I sat in Sunday school that morning, I was convinced that this was the man who I could trust my children to as they move into this important ministry as well.  I’m excited to see how Bro. Tim and his wife Heather take on the ministry and even, yes, change some things.  We’re not so fooled as to think we did it the only or best way.  2nd man ran it the best way he knew God would have him to do, but we know Bro. Tim will want to make some changes, and we’re good with that.  We just hope and pray that the teens will be good and accepting of it.  We told the youth workers that we wanted to hear that it is all going well.  But, I did add that I didn’t want to hear that it was horribly different or that it was way better either.  Hey, let’s be realistic here…I’m a melancholy personality.  I need a little tenderness. 

So now, here I am still a 2nd mans wife, but embarking on a new adventure.  Can’t wait to see what God has in store!
Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Parenting

Question for Mothers of daughters

 I’m supposed to be putting the finishing touches on my lesson for tonight, but I got a little sidetracked with a thought that I just had to get written.  One of my last points for this evening’s lesson is to challenge the girls to include their parents in their love life.  Sounds kind of weird and hokey huh?  However, this really got me pondering my own motherhood and wondering what some other moms thought about this.

  It’s a little late in the day to get the feedback I suppose, but if you have a minute please do give me a comment or email me, or FB me, or something.  If you find yourself reading this later than today Feb. 29, then I’d still love, love, love to hear your thoughts.

So, here’s my question for Moms of daughters; What would you say would be your response if your teenage or college age daughter came to you confessing that she had messed up morally?

Ok, I know what the pat answer would be, but I challenge you to actually put yourself in that position for a minute or two and really ponder this.  Not just what you hope you’d do or what you picture yourself doing…what do you really think your response would be?  I ask because I’m quite sure from the past fourteen plus years of working with teen girls, that many of them don’t know or worse, they expect a terrible response.

Thankfully, this doesn’t include all of the girls I’ve ever worked with, or even really a majority of them.  I praise God for having come across some very engaged parents that keep an open line of communication in this area.  Some parents who are able to reassure their kids that God loves them unconditionally and so do they as parents.  Of course there would be disappointment to deal with and heartbreak involved as well.  We all (I’m taking liberties here I know) want what is best for our children.  We desire their happiness, and I’m hoping we desire their holiness just as much. 

“So, why are you even asking this question then?” you may want to know.   Well, I’ve also talked with many girls through the years that simply won’t talk to their mom’s about such thing.  This includes of course girls that have gone through our youth department, as well as girls I’ve met while volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center.   When I do encourage these girls to go to their mothers, they look at me as if they’d rather take an ad out in a newspaper confessing their faults than to actually talk to their mom!

 As a mom, of two daughters, this leaves me absolutely confounded.  My girls are only just now on the brink of “teenagedom” and I’m feverishly working to open new lines of communication, as well as keep old ones clear.  I’m constantly asking myself if I’ve shut them down in some way and how can I correct that if I have.  My oldest and I have had a few talks so far about the changes coming her way.  So far she doesn’t seem too traumatized by it.  However, when her Doctor asked if I’d given her any “talks” yet; I responded with, “yes, well, some talks just prepping her.”  He then proceeded to encourage her to save sex for marriage.  “I guess I should have been more specific with him,” I thought to myself as my wide-eyed 11year old sat staring at him without blinking.  Needless to say, we had an impromptu talk on the way home from that appointment.  Don’t get me wrong; I’m so very appreciative to have a Christian doctor who would care enough to talk to her as both a doctor and a daddy himself.  However, we hadn’t gotten to the part of the talk about WHY the changes would be happening. 

Anyway, this morning I came across a book we’ve had for a while called “Stay in the Castle” and decided to use it in place of Bible time for school.  It led to good discussion on how their dad and I pray that they would trust us to help guide them through their single years to find not just a good guy, or even a great guy, but the right guy for them. (if any, as my middle daughter is still declaring her vow to singleness so as to be just like Amy Carmichael).

Truthfully I’m full of thoughts and apprehensions of how these two very different personalities could go astray.  I’m a perfectionist, so at the first sign of bad attitude – I have a tendency to picture my sweet, beautiful, innocent daughter in a gutter somewhere having thrown her life away.  I try not to let this show through, but the tendency itself frightens me because I don’t want them to sense any fears that might creep into my unguarded mind.  I want them to see me as confident that God will take them and do something wonderful and beautiful with them.  I know this is true, if they will stay under Gods guidance and ours.  However, I also want to be prepared to handle any missteps in a godly way.  I want them to feel confident in coming to me with confessions or questions.  I want them to be confident that I’m not going to totally flip out on them (even if I’m flipping out in my head).   So I’m striving now to build the bridges and to keep my responses appropriate to the “little” things.  Who knew that raising kids would mean so much work on ME!?  I rest in the assurance that as long as I follow God and strive to honor and please him in my parenting; he will help take up the slack of my blind spots and reveal them to me as needed.  It’s a humbling position in which to be. 

I’m positive that those reading this, who are part of our church, have already seen holes in my parenting and/or flaws in each of my children.  You’ll never hear me claim to be doing it flawlessly.  However, my aim is to do it humbly and godly with sprinkles of praise and blessing along the way. (I love sprinkles!) 

So, there’s my challenging question for the day; any thoughts or advice on the matter?
Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife

Wednesday Night Girl Lessons

            For the first time in the fourteen years we’ve been at this church 2nd man is allowing me to teach the young ladies in our Wednesday night class.  I’m all, “boy oh boy oh boy oh boy.” (In hyper panting tones with hands rubbing together.)  I think they’re all “boy oh boy oh boy oh boy,” (in long drawn out tones with hands rubbing down face as heads shake back and forth).   What’s funny is that with all this info. I’ve been waiting to share; I’m having such a hard time pairing things down into single lesson formats without cramming everything I know into one 30-minute lesson. 

            I thought I’d include some general highlights of what I’ve been teaching in my blog for any curious parents or even other youth pastor wives who would like to compare notes or share critiques.  Whatever category you may fall into, feel free to share what you think.  I’d love to hear about it…well, I think I’d love to hear about it.  I’ve been using two books primarily:  Secrets About Guys that shouldn’t be secrets by Grace Dove and For Young Women Only by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa A. Rice.

The first week I simply started by sharing my testimony.  Many of the girls had heard the story of how 2nd man and I got together as he’s told it like a bazillion times.  However, not many have ever gotten to hear it from my point of view, or about my teen years. I remember as a teen meeting people in ministry thinking that they had no clue what real humans went through and therefore were rendered useless as informants for life.  My desire with week one was to let the girls see and hear about the “real” me baggage and all.   I want them to realize that I’m real, I’ve messed up, and I’ve straightened up (only by God’s grace) and that choosing God’s path is far more worth it than any paths of regret that may present themselves as fun along the way. 

I might add here that I have a little teacher’s wonderland thing going on in my head that pictures me giving lessons and young women on the edge of their seats waiting for more and wondering what more I can tell them to get them on the right path.  Lives being changed and repentant young women getting right with the Lord like a curling ribbon spool coming unraveled…uncontainable revival…unstoppable excitement….

     Well, in reality it’s more like an unlikely event.  Instead, I had one table of girls on night one who were giggling at one point, but so nicely informed me that they weren’t laughing at me, just having their own conversation.  To my side I can feel the eyeballs of one girl who keeps rolling them up into her head at my comments every week.  I think they might get stuck there.  It kind of gives me a headache right behind my own eyes just imagining it.  Then there are the others who don’t put their phones down.  To this my thoughts are…”really? I mean I can see you ya know.”  I know teens today are able to multi-task and hear me too, but I’m much too simple minded to be undistracted.

 Anyway, I know some are listening and as I told another youth pastor’s wife recently, my hope is to haunt them.  I remember not wanting to hear what my own youth pastor’s wife had to say (who I am now related to and love dearly…ah the irony. be careful who you don’t want to listen to chuckle chuckle) however, her words did sink in somehow and someway and haunted me all through my rebellious years of high school.  I know, of course, this was the Holy Spirit using her to haunt me, but nevertheless she was an ever-present presence.  So, this is my hope.  If you can’t win them – haunt them.  🙂 

Week two, I taught on how guys love mystery, which spilled into weeks three and four entailing modesty and beauty.  Sometimes I wish the moms were in the class too, just so I could hear what their thoughts on the matters are.  I would just love it in a perfect world if they could be there and we could all be backing each other up in the Lord so to speak.   You see, here in Oklahoma it’s not ladylikeness isn’t really encouraged much.  I’m considered quite the fuddy duddy since I’m anti burping contests in the presence of guys.  I was personally delighted to find out from our own teen guys, while interviewing them, that they actually don’t like that all that much and though they laugh, they’re not attracted.  Woo hoo!  That’s one for Miss Jenny!  (Said with all the modesty and humbleness I could muster of course.)  

We’ve covered points such as how mystery is created through concealing not revealing our bodies and our thoughts.  How it isn’t necessary to say everything we think no show everything naturally possess.  We also discussed how it is important to fix ourselves up a bit as guys really appreciate this.  The whole “wal mart in your pajamas” scene is no a pretty one and I find it my own personal mission to put a stop to it with any young girls under my influence.

It is my prayer that the girls will have listened as I covered many more points as well.  If you are one of my moms reading this post, feel free to get the notes from me if you’re curious.  2nd man and I always try to steer teens back home in our counsel and teaching, so I’m hoping that I’m on the same page with the moms of our teens as I’ve told them to go home and discuss it. 

I’m now coming up on week five and wondering what to teach on this week.  I’m praying that the Lord reveals in a real and distinct way which lesson he’d have me to teach on so that it would be beneficial to these young ladies.  I’m impressed on their desire to do right.  Now we just need them to act on those good desires, always remembering “They’re not yet who they’re going to be.”
Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Daily Musings, Life Lessons

While the Pastor’s Away…

            While our Pastor and his wife were away (no I didn’t get to play) I got the honor and privilege of teaching the ladies Sunday school class.  Originally, she asked me to cover the two weeks while they were out of town.  However, in some moment of madness I offered to her that I’d teach for the whole month if she’d like.  That way she gets a little bit of a sabbatical like he does.  Which led me, after this first week, to ask…. what was I thinking?  I was all, “ yeah, I can take the whole month, cuz I got this book that I’ve been wanting to share.”  (Said in a high confident kind of voice).  Now, I’m like “Whaaa?”

            You see, the plain fact of the matter is…I’m a thief.   I’m on the decorating committee, not because I’m creative, but it somehow rationalizes my time spent on looking at all of the creative things other people have come up with.  I teach, not because I’m a great discerner of biblical messages, but I get excited when I read what others have discerned and I want to share it with people.  This gets me into trouble, as my relating capabilities are hindered by my excitement sometimes.  That’s what happened this morning.

            The book I chose to outline through this month was, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them free by Nancy Leigh Demoss.  Frankly, I’m sure the ladies class questions my groupiness with Ms. Demoss. I use her books practically every time I get a chance to fill in for this class.  I don’t apologize; I really think she has a knack for discerning the word of God in practical ways for ladies.  Anyway, I’ve had this book for almost 10 years, but it’s a hard one to go over in just one class, so I honestly thought it was a good time to use it since I have four classes to stretch it into.  Looks like I’m still gonna be in trouble

            The first week I walked in all ready to go. I was workin my high heal boots and denim jacket; I even painted my nails to feel really put together.  (That’s right; start out with the vanity a really godly way to start the day huh?) Actually, the reason I pay attention to this goes back to when I was student teaching high school and it took until third period for any of my students to let me know my shirt was unbuttoned!  Since then, I try to make sure I don’t have anything too distracting going on.  My motto is look nice, don’t be self-conscious and don’t distract.  That’s about the best that lesson got.

            I don’t sing anymore in front of this class after a time of severe embarrassment in relation to singing.  I once was teaching a lesson on the Holy Spirit.  I had spent the entire week excited and revived and was soooo looking forward to sharing what I’d learned.  I thought it would be the perfect time to sing “There’s a sweet sweet spirit in this place…” I warned the ladies that I wasn’t a good singer so that they’d join in all the more.  Unfortunately just the opposite happened.  It was more like a solo rendition on my part which quite frankly quenched the Holy Spirit before I even got into the lesson.  So, now when I fill in it’s right to the lesson we go.

            Well, I tried to cram too much into one lesson.  I had already cut a lot out, due to time constraints, but realized I’d have to do more in the future.  The ladies class meets in the sanctuary so I knew I’d have to cut it short so people could file in for main service. When I finally got near the end and to my two favorite points, I was in rush mode.  At one point I looked back to see what seemed like a sea of faces smashed up against the glass that flanks the back of the sanctuary doors.  It kind of made me giggle to see all of the noses pressed up against the glass.  I guess they were hinting that I was going too long.  I wrapped it up and dismissed with an awkward, “well…you’re dismissed” no prayer or anything.  The usher at the back door let me know the protocol for looking at the back window and knowing that he would give me a 5-minute warning. I was glad he filled me in.

            The next two weeks were ok, but being out of practice with teaching, I left out a lot of things that I had wished I was able to say better.  Today I am putting the finishing touches on tomorrow’s lesson, the last lesson of the month.  I have already typed out my outline, but I’m sure praying that I’m able to put on the personal touches and illustrations that might make it meaningful or at the very least, understandable to the ladies.  The fact is, I’m a little bit glad it’s over.  Oh, I actually enjoy the teaching aspect, it’s the learning that goes along with it I don’t like.  Here I am trying to teach about Satan and his deceptive lies and I’ve had nothing but a month in full out battle with him over lies he’s been whispering to me.  Ughhh!  Of course the end of teaching a series doesn’t exactly mean he’ll let up, but I’m so exhausted from it all right now. 

            To top it off my personal devotions have been in Ezekiel lately.  I mean, have you ever really read that book and thought about Ezekiel the man?  The things the Lord had him do were outrageous (in my meager opinion)! Cook bread over a fire made from poo!  Lay on his side every day for like 300+ days!  The Lord even let him know that He was going to take his wife’s life as an example to the Israelites and Ezekiel was no allowed to openly mourn her!  Doesn’t exactly sell ya on the desire to be a prophet does it?  Of course I’m not trying to say I’m anywhere near to being a prophet or anything, but I do take sharing even a ladies Sunday school lesson important, because I’m trying to represent the Lord and His message.  I haven’t experienced near the outlandish requirements of Ezekiel and I’m exhausted.  Let’s just say my respect for these prophets of old went up a hundred fold as well as my respect for our pastor and my own husband.  2nd man loves these times.  Oh, he doesn’t like to see me struggle, but he does appreciate the fresh perspective it gives me for the men of God and what they go through.  And hey, the ladies that teach ladies too!  Welcome back Miss Brenda!

Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife

Pastor’s 25th Anniversary

            Last weekend our church celebrated the 25th anniversary of our pastor’s service at our church.  Wow! That’s right I said 25 years, a feat almost unheard of these days.  I’m so thankful for him and for his wife.  They have provided such a blessed atmosphere in which to serve. 

            Pastor, what can I say?  He’s one of the most even keeled people I’ve ever met.  His feathers never seem to ruffle, which, quite frankly can be frustrating when playing a game with him, but is encouraging when trouble comes knocking    His humor is contagious and his balance has been a great example to the 2nd man and I.  We came from a church initially where the pastor once jumped the 2nd man on a decision he made.  Totally, making 2nd man not only feel bad, but also exaggerating the situation making it appear hopeless and ruined.  When we came to this church, what a breath of fresh air to find such a godly, logical, wise and kind man serving as pastor.  I regret that I don’t express my respect to him often enough.  I am in awe at how much work he can handle and even worry about him with his load sometimes. 

       Pastors wife – oh I love that woman.  When 2nd man and I first came here we were newlyweds struggling through that first year of marriage and the battle of expectations.

I remember the first time I went to her for advice with a frustration I had.  She took me out on her front porch and listened quietly and then matter-of-factly stated that I was wrong in my thinking.  She wasn’t unkind in the least, but rather a true friend by letting me know exactly what my godly role as a wife was and what I should be expecting or rather not expecting from my husband.  Some might think it harsh or not want to hear this information, but I so cherish a friend who can be honest with me.  Honestly, I’m sure she saved us years of heartache and turmoil by setting me straight.  She does not actually like to counsel people and I think feels unsure about her ability, but she definitely came through on that day.  She and I are opposites in many ways, I’m melancholy, she’s choleric, I’m constantly battling worry, and she just doesn’t care about nonsense.  She’s bolder and even braver than I in many ways and I love her for it.

        They both have taken to our children as surrogate grandparents type figures even though they’re not old enough to be their grandparents.  They take my kids when we have youth activities in which they cannot go.  They’ve even gone on vacation with us.  When the church sent us to Disney world for our 10th anniversary, they went along and we couldn’t have had a more enjoyable time. Did I mention that preacher is the best travel companion – the man eats fun stuff all the time.  While at Epcot we split up for a while and when we met back up he had an entire box of pastries from France that we noshed on all day.   We’ve even spent holidays and special events with them. 

 We are totally able to relax and be ourselves in their presence and I don’t take that for granted since I know many church staff relations are not like this.  We eat lunch at their house every Sunday.  Each family brings something to the table, but let’s face it, they are dishing out the most.  For a year or so we didn’t do these lunches because of the job she had, made it too stressful.  I missed those Sundays and am so glad to have them back.  It’s nice to just go relax after church and unwind.  Their hospitality is unmatched in my book.  They even have started having staff retreats over the past few years.  We all go to Branson or somewhere and relax and have fun together.  They use this time to have a yearly planning meeting as well, but the relationship building is even more profound. 

Truly, I mean every word I’ve said here and that’s a good feeling.  I’m hoping they are able to relax this month, as part of the gift for pastor was a one-month sabbatical.  They took a week or two of vacation to Florida and we have some special speakers filling the pulpit for the entire month.  I’m taking over her Ladies Sunday School class for the month and 2nd man is preaching a few times and taking on the extra responsibility of having our pastor gone.  Already the enemy has tried to derail us a bit with stressful situations, but we’re adamant that he won’t succeed.  Still, I hope the month goes fast for us and we have a quick return of our pastor. 

I truly love them, they are great friends and mentors and I thank God for their influence and love.
Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife

Spiritual Boot Camp 2011

            We recently experienced one of the most exciting activities of the year for our youth ministry, Spiritual Boot camp 2011!!!  It was both exhilarating and exhausting.  420 teenagers and leaders/pastors from around Kansas and Oklahoma descended upon our little town and rallied their hearts out before receiving a great Bible message from a special man of God. 
            But first, here’s a little history on Spiritual Boot camp.  When 2nd Man and I first came to this church back in 1998 we were told that our group usually went to Wichita to stay in a hotel between Christmas and New Years and have a bit of a winter retreat.  When 2nd Man heard that he would be expected to continue this he came up with an idea to expand the vision for this retreat.  He decided to open it up to other youth groups as well and gave it a theme of Spiritual Boot camp.  Our first year was a blast and people really got into it.  There were approximately 120 people who attended that first year. 
The second year was even bigger and better.  However, it began to get complicated.  I remember one night 2ndMan and I literally spent the entire night at the church until 5 am the next day working on the details (we weren’t very good delegaters back then).  Our bus with supplies broke down on the highway on the day of the retreat and we had to really get creative with the whole retreat.  Then there was the incident of one of the outside activities.  It was a local hockey game.  I’ve been to hockey games before, but this was crazy.  There were bloody fights breaking out every couple minutes and the music and foul language was rampant even from the loud speakers!  2nd Man watched in horror as groups (including our own) had to take their kids back to the hotel early that night.  Not the greatest moment in youth ministry right there.
2nd Man preparing for arrival of troops
            After that year the hotel we used shut down and we made the decision to move the retreat to Tulsa.  We have other churches that we affiliate with down there and that became a helpful jumping off point to getting a lay of the land and what outside activities we could do there as well as a host of better hotels (no offense Wichita).  From there on the retreat began to grow larger every year.  But there was still the issue of having to drive 1-½ hours to our hosting sight and all of the organization and money that included.  Every year our church had to foot a pretty hefty bill that wasn’t covered by the registration of the teenagers. So finally, in 2005 we handed the whole retreat over to a church that was already located in Tulsa and could better handle the logistics.  It had grown into such a popular event that we didn’t want to stop it altogether.  After some staffing changes at that church, the event finally was cancelled for a couple of years. Now, it’s back on, but with a whole different theme and venue. 
            So, I say all that to say that two years ago 2nd Man got the great idea to bring back Spiritual Boot camp, but house it in our new building and change it into a one day rally event.  Last year, our first year back, we had about 380 and grew to 420+ this year.  It is one of my favorite events to watch 2ndMan in action.  It’s one of those times when you’re doing the Lords work for a multitude including your own teens. 
            This year’s sub theme was Beachhead, which quite frankly was totally a foreign concept to me, until he explained to me what a beachhead is.  Apparently, in WWII it was more widely known.  These were forts on the beach (duh) that were set to attack enemy forces coming from the ocean or sea.  Specifically, we think of it during D-Day when our army attacked Normandy.  They conquered the beachhead and used it as a starting point of operations to move further inland.  This is what God would have us to do with Satan and his deceived troops.  Not just conquer the beachhead, but use it as a jumping off point to move further on the offensive to expand the victories for the Lord. 
            I wish I could really show you how exciting the whole thing was.  2nd Man has a standard of excellence like no other.  Sometimes that can be challenging to work under, but he is a gracious perfectionist.  I ended up in charge of rallying the decorating troops.  It was our mission to turn the front of the sanctuary into a beachhead fort; also, to turn the foyer into an HQ of sorts for arriving youth groups.  It took days and a team of helpers to do it, but it was so cool looking when all was said and done. 
The Beach Head
            One of the many challenges was filling the military sandbags.  Obviously sand would have been both heavy and expensive.  So we tried a few different options and settled on using hay.  I asked a man in our church if he had any I could use and he suggested I go down into a ravine on our church property where he dumped some while swathing our land.  (Swathing is a new word I’ve recently learned.  It’s when you see the farmers taking the grasses and rolling them into those huge round bales of hay you see out in the fields).  Anyway he had a bale that went wrong so he just dumped it in the ravine.  This was a challenge for me.  Out here in OK we have these things I’m scared of called snakes and spiders.  I prayed up, loaded my kids and dogs up and drove the ole trailblazer off road to the ravine. Thankfully, we didn’t encounter any of the aforementioned creatures.  We stuffed and stuffed and stuffed, but I still had to send some teens out to finish the job on decorating day.  The plan worked perfectly until Jose, our song leader, came to me on the day of the rally with swollen red eyes from grass allergies! Um…oops.
Foyer HQ
            Decorating day was one full of stress and…well…more stress.  None of my projects  were working according to the plan A.  EVERYTHING had to go to at least plan B and then some even further down the alphabet.  It was a long 12 hour day, but overall very successful.  I know the pictures really don’t do the room justice, but it really did look neat.  The large Wolverines and Cobras signs on the walls are actually about 8’X16’.  Though they aren’t great works of art, they did the job of covering banners that our church has hanging up there.  May I just say painting on that large of a surface is not an easy task especially when you’re 5’2”. 
            We invited some college guys from Heartland Baptist Bible College to be our rally yell leaders.  The churches were separated into two groups and did fun challenging games.  Whatever side won, 2nd man would pull from their tickets and give out prizes like an I pod touch, a digital camera, gift cards and one youth department won a Play Station 3 for their group!  2nd Man’s motto is go big or go home.  After the rally we had special singing, great preaching and then out to the south lawn for inflatable games.  I wish I had taken pictures of the inflatables, one was over two stories high!  The inflatables are always a bit of a gamble because of weather.  And we did end up having a very heavy rainfall and storm that day…at 4:45pm.  What’s the significance of that you ask?  It was exactly 15 minutes after the whole even was over.  God’s so good!
the masses
more masses

masses from the back
2nd Man jr. ready for duty
            Now, we’ve been in recovery mode for the last couple of weeks until we gear up for next year.  But I’ll think about that…next year.