Boy, am I glad it’s Monday! I don’t say that very often, but this was one weekend I was glad to get past. Of all the weekends to have a feeling anti-social seclusion come over me this was NOT the right one. I’ve been furiously trying to get the kids’ school finished, clean house for company coming soon and finish up some projects that have long gone neglected. Friday evening came and I was already exhausted before our youth activity even started. It didn’t help that not many people could come because of outside circumstances. 2nd man was not exactly feeling the love for this activity either so there was kind of a feeling of “just wanna stay home.” in the air. We ended up having a good time, but not exactly one for the record books.
Saturday came and I was excited to scoot the kids out to Nana’s cottage (my mother-in-law lives in a small cottage behind our house). And get 2nd man out the door so I could really buckle down and do some serious cleaning. Weeelllll, that one didn’t go as planned either. At about 11:00 2nd man finally left for visitation and I only had about an hour before I had to get ready for graduation parties. Now, don’t get me wrong. I usually love these come and go parties. I definitely love the graduates we were visiting. I just, really, was in need of some uninterrupted housework that you can only seem to get done on a Saturday ya know? So we went to the first party and of course I enjoyed it,
Then it was back home for pie baking 101. Yes, I had forgotten that I’d promised my girls that they could bake pies for our annual pie auction for the teen dept. That, of course, meant I had to teach them how to bake pies. Pie is good. I like pie. Pie is messy to make. Pies take many steps. Pies really mess up a kitchen whose dishwasher is broken. Bad pies. (but very yummy!)
The already strained weekend went south when I stepped outside to get something out of the car. Our Curly Kitty was sprawled out on the driveway sunning himself. I was talking to him as I walked to the car, when all of a sudden a huge gust of wind blew over a church table we had leaning against our steps until we could load it into our truck. The table smashed right on top of Curly. He wriggled out and ran off. I was relived to see him move so fast, but couldn’t find him anywhere. 2nd man took a look around as well, but to no avail. We had to stop for a while and go to the next graduation party.
After the 2nd party we pulled up and thankfully Curly came back up to us and came in the house. I couldn’t see any visible signs of trouble and was relieved when he ate some food and purred in my arms. After a while he wanted back outside, so I figured that everything was all right.
So, amongst the hub and bub of any Sunday, we were dealing with the grief at the loss of a beloved pet and trying to get ready for a very big fundraiser that evening. The girls had to finish their pies.
We picked up hamburgers at the drive-thru at 9:30 on a Sunday night for supper. Yes, great moments in mom history feeding junk food to your poor starving kids when it’s already past their bedtime. Actually, that was plan B, I was going to just feed everyone a piece of pie.
So, now it’s a quiet Monday morning. I’m missing my coffee and devotions partner (Curly), but the kids are sleeping in and I need to be planning out this week, but am getting distracted with my blog. It’s the last week of school and our houseguests are coming Saturday, but since this weekend is behind me, none of that seems to stress me out. Boy, am I glad it’s Monday.
Last night we finished up our first year of All-Stars, Wednesday night program for our youth department. We took advantage of the recently good weather and had a cookout on our church property. While doing this it got me to thinking about all of the times we have cooked for a ravenous pack of teenagers. Having become somewhat of a pro at this now, I thought I’d share some things we’ve learned along the way. Admittedly, some of this goes against my own grain, as I enjoy things that are beautifully put together and engage all of the senses. However, we’re talking about teenagers here who are not yet adept at appreciating things in this way, so, I’ve learned to concede some of my perfectionism and do what works. We generally feed around 45 people on average, but have also at times been in charge of feeding several hundred for youth rallies or even just about 10 for smaller gatherings.
1. This is not the time to think nutrition: I know this may go against all of you who are health conscious or just simply have a family of your own that you are trying to nutritiously feed. However, as 2nd man puts it, “we’re simply trying to sustain life here, we’re not in charge of their entire diet.” It costs money to feed the ravenous pack and sometimes the “fun” food is cheaper. If you are on a special diet of some sort, it is my suggestion that you eat beforehand so that you are neither tempted nor foiled in your plan.
- This is not the time to think gourmet: I’m no great chef or gourmet cook, but I do enjoy trying new and interesting things I’ve seen in magazines or on the Food Network. However, it has been my experience both financially and practically with the kids’ taste preferences, that teens are much more satisfied with something simple and familiar. I’ve had times where I’ve tried new things with the kids and it usually doesn’t go over very well. When spending this kind of money and time I suggest pleasing the crowd. Save your special recipes for smaller groups of adults who can appreciate both the work and the ingredients. If you simply must experiment here, perhaps do it with dessert.
* On a special note here: I’ll share one of my recent mistakes. We currently have a family with both kids on special diets. I’ve gotten myself into the predicament of ordering special for them on pizza nights. I guess they got me in a weak moment and a part of me is a softy for them. However, it does complicate things for me. So, my suggestion when this is the case would be to not charge them for the activity, but ask mom to provide whatever the special food is that they may need. It’s simply too complicated to have to be responsible for everyone’s diet. Unless of course you’re a softy like me or can accommodate easily.
3. Always buy too much: Another maxim of 2nd man is, “It’s always better to have too much than too little.” It can be hard to foretell how hungry the kids will be, so I always try to have more than enough so they may have seconds. Of course you must be careful with expenses. However, nothing comes across more inhospitable than rationing food at a fun activity.
- Pizza Numbers: Along with number 3 above, we usually assign 3 people per large pizza when counting heads. This number seems to always serve us well when ordering for a crowd. We usually order from Pizza Hut or Dominos. Dominos gives a better deal in general, but when our church built a new building we found it more convenient to drive to Pizza Hut. We’ve struck a deal with them to get a discount since we usually make a large order at least once per month. Usually managers will work some kind of deal with you if you order at least 12 pizzas or more.
- Set out only some of the pop: Teenagers like pop. They like it to flow freely and with abundance. Therefore, I’ve learned that even though I try to buy more than enough, I only set out a few 2 liters at a time. Otherwise they will open every single bottle and you’ll be left with partial 2 liters that you have to give away. Instead, set out an appropriate amount and put out more if they seem extra thirsty or ask for more. This way you can save unused bottles for future activities. Speaking of pop, buy the name brand kind. The idea is to be careful with money, but not to make the teens feel unworthy either.
- Charge for the food: This may seem obvious, but let the teens offset the costs here. Sometimes we do splurge and make it a free night. However, charging $5.00 is not too much to ask when they’re getting a meal. Assign a youth worker or adult to take up the money in an envelope. Our church does allow fundraisers for our kids. With this money we set them up with an account that they can pull from for large activities like camps and youth retreats or even small activities too. This helps the parents from having to fork it over every weekend. I know some churches aren’t comfortable with this, so handle it however, your pastor would allow.
- Let the kids help: Recently we have a young lady in our youth department who loves to bake. She seems to want to pursue this passion and has shown some good ability too. Just last night she made All-Star cupcakes to go with our group theme. They were simply beautiful with white chocolate stars poking up out of the beautifully piped frosting. If you have someone with ability like this and the energy and desire to use it, let them. It helps you and encourages them.
On occasion, I also like to have the girls help me with cooking projects or setting up or even cleaning up. It’s good experience for them. Just don’t overdo it or they may get to feeling like it’s more work than activity.
8. Ask the parents for help: I save this suggestion for smaller churches. We’re not exactly ginormous, but big enough that this is actually kind of hard for me. I have had the experience in the past of trying to do this and had multiple people back out for varying reasons at the last minute. They think that there are enough other parents that it won’t matter. It was in those times I was left to panic and whip something together. However, in a smaller group, people wouldn’t necessarily have that “out” and it could work out for the better financially for all.
Some sample menus: One may look at this and think I have no creativity, However, I’ve learned to keep it simple. Sometimes, I get a hankering to change it up. But in general I stick with these few choices.
A. Hamburgers (buy the pre-made patties, this is often cheaper and much fast to cook up)
Sometimes we add hotdogs to offset the cost
Cookies or Little Debbies
B. Pizza: we do this on a monthly basis and provide pizza and pop. We generally charge $5.00 for this activity
C. Sloppy Joes: this is a very cost effective meal but not all teens enjoy sloppy Joes
I use Manwich, the kind in the can. I know people have different preferences here, but the flavor of this is usually pleasing to a wider array of people, it’s cheaper than buying all of the homemade ingredients and lets face it, it’s much faster to prepare.
We usually pair chips and cookies with this one as well
D. Snack night: This one takes a little more time and planning, but the kids eat it up fast. On these kind of nights we have:
1. Rotelle cheese dip with tortilla chips: 1 block of Velveeta, 1 can Rotelle tomatoes and chilies, 1 tube of mild sausage cooked.
2. Taquitoes with salsa and sour cream
3. bagel pizzas
4. egg rolls (the kind found in the frozen foods section
E. Hot dogs: If we are doing hot dogs only, I try to add fun to it by providing chili topping along with cheese onion, ketchup, mustard and relish, so they can have more variety. We usually add the chips and cookies here too.
Soooo not exactly rocket science, but just a few things that have helped us along the way. I might add that I’m open to suggestions if anyone else reading has done something different and would like to share.
I vaguely remember when my momma learned the word minutia (pronounced mi noo sha, sorry, I don’t know how to make those little upside down e thingies). It has to do with small trivial matters. I don’t remember the exact time, but I remember her using the word over and over again for weeks. It’s one of those words that seem kind of pretentious, but that’s weird since the word itself is about unpretentious trivial things in life. However, it’s fun to say and it makes all of those trivial little monster chores seem more important somehow.
As a matter of fact that’s what this post is about. For the past two weeks my life has been totally consumed with minutia. I mean it’s been a whirlwind of minutia, so much so that I almost had a panic attack over it the other day. That’s one of the dangers of being a stay at home, home schooling mom. It sounds like a boring job, but there are so many details to attend to that the word boring never gets a chanced to even be vocalized.
Really, I tend to dig these holes myself and then jump in with eyes closed and breathing paused. When I first married 2nd man and we were candidating at churches, they’d always ask me, “Do you sing or play the piano?” To which I’d reply, “Well, no, but I do have other talents.” I’ve often felt silly about that since my only other talents are that I can navigate myself around a strange city unusually well (which has helped on many youth trips so far I might add.) And, I can over extend myself faster than you can say…well…minutia.
Anyway, I began this little whirlwind a couple of weeks ago when I realized that I had been stowing away junk in our garage all winter in hopes of having a garage sale sometime. It seemed like a logical task to take on since the past month has been a spending frenzy for our household. Our girls’ bedroom furniture kept breaking. I finally had it when I caught them simply reaching into the broken drawer front of their dresser to get underwear out of a scrunched mess that had been shoved into the designated drawer and kept falling out onto the floor. Thus we bought them new furniture. Then came the broken finger of my little soccer goalie and the various trips to the doctors that ensued due to the location of the fracture near a growth plate. Did you know that putting a splint on a broken finger is considered a surgery worth over $800.00!! Of course there was also the one-month of free shipping for the home school supplies I will need next year. Last year I was miffed after paying nearly $100.00 in shipping alone because none of the home school displays or conventions are anywhere near where we live. So I felt pressured to buy now. So…. that’s what led to the great idea of a garage sale.
Garage sales really are never convenient, but I looked at our calendar and realized that last weekend was the only weekend I’d have to put this little ditty on until possibly next fall. You see, in the youth pastors home summer is not a break time. We will have two camps to attend, a 3-week fireworks stand to run, a trip to Chicago with a few students and an end of summer 3 day youth rally in Oklahoma City. So, the pressure was on to get this thing done and generate a little cash. Didn’t matter that it was the week of our church revival.
Don’t get me wrong I love revival. I really do enjoy getting to go to church each night of the week, hearing the word preached and fellowshipping with our church family. However, as all moms know, revivals can sink your whole schedule. Dinners must be ready early, children must be cleaned daily (Yes, I admit it, I flub on this one sometimes). 2nd man’s shirts must be ironed and I have the great task of making it all look effortless…ahem cough cough. Anyway, something must give on these kinds of weeks and mine had to be my house. I fell behind on laundry, vacuuming, dusting and somehow I managed to unscientifically make papers reproduce themselves right there on the dining room table. I’d turn around for two minutes and a new pile would appear. Problem was, I didn’t have time to call the Discovery Channel over this phenomenon, I was too busy looking effortless.
After a very tiring day, 2nd man took us all out to dinner with some of the proceeds of the day. I was trying to keep my face from planting into the dinner plate at the restaurant, but the exhaustion hit my kids differently. They were wound up like little hurricanes. After supper they asked if we could stop for ice cream. Are you kidding?! 2nd man and I just looked at each other. I had the passing thought of just handing around cups full of Benadryl, but of course I wouldn’t do that. Let’s just say bedtime couldn’t come soon enough for me.
The next day was fast and furious as well. The wind died down, but the schedule didn’t. Garage sale, furniture delivery, soccer game and making dinner for friends who just moved, were just some of the items on the minutia list. Top it all off with the “Saturday, getting ready for Sunday” duties. I hardly need to mention the Sunday schedule. Anyone in ministry knows it is the best and busiest day of the week on any normal week. Add to that we had a GAP (Games and Pizza) night that night with the teens.
When I finally sat down at the computer Monday morning to do some bills and other minutia, I was literally shaking. The money, cleaning and planning was piled so high I didn’t know where to start. Praise the Lord for his patience and understanding, a double praise for him extending some of that understanding to my family. The minutia is still mountainous, but I’m hacking away at it little by little. Funny how such trivial things can grow so big in our minds. Well, I’m going to abruptly end here now, because the minutia monster calls and I must feed it. Hope you all have a great day!
So, I’ve already written about our trip to the wedding of one of our former youth. Now, I thought I’d share the rest of the trip.
I just want to say upfront, that after taking this trip sans kids, I’m convinced at the necessity of couples to get away with each other if they can, preferably on an annual basis. I remember when I taught school, I met some parents who went on an annual cruise together without the kids. I didn’t think it sounded very practical then (before I had kids), but now I can see that it was probably a very healthy decision.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore my kids and we have a great time on vacations…well now we do. Admittedly, I thought the word vacation to be an oxymoron for the longest time. In the dictionary it has the connotation of suspending work and resting. As a mother of three kids all under 6 at the time I really had a problem with that. Somehow diapers, potty breaks, and feedings didn’t ever get suspended for me. Thankfully, I can now say to those mothers of very young children, there is a light at the end of that tunnel and it’s not as far away as it seems.
Of course, money is an issue. However, even if it’s not a long trip, maybe even just a weekend get away, I’d highly advise it. Get that husband alone and go have some fun.
Now, where was I? Oh yes, the rest of the trip. 2nd man has a cousin who lives in Pennsylvania and is like a sister to him. She, and one of his best friends from college, were both in our wedding and had their first date the night we got married. They have since married and we all have kids of similar ages. When we started planning the trip we knew that if we were that close to Jessica and Brett we had to stop and visit. That was such a great decision. I just love them both so dearly. Jessica is like a sister to me now too. She’s one of those people who are drop dead gorgeous even at the crack of dawn. Then, when they get all dressed up with their bling, you just want to crawl under a rock rather than stand next to them. You want to hate them and think they are snotty and all about themselves, but instead she’s anything but that. She’s one of the most real and sincere people I’ve ever met. She’s a great mom and wife and loves the Lord.
Brett and I got to know each other by default. While all of us were newly married we were on a trip visiting family. 2nd man, Jessica and the rest of the siblings went into the bedroom of aunt Alice and Uncle Dan to gather around the bed and have a family heart to heart. Apparently this was normal for all of them while growing up. Being new to the family Brett and I weren’t going to invite ourselves into such a sanctuary and neither Jessica nor my 2nd man thought to invite us. So we found ourselves in the living room getting to know each other. That happened about 10 or more years ago and we still laugh about it today. Now, though, we, (the four of us) find ourselves visiting late into the nights whenever we see each other. It’s such a comfort to have such close friends and family that are sharing the same stages of life with you, raising kids, church issues, growing marriages.
The reason I’m here alone is that 2nd man is over at a church getting ready for a wedding. Mm mmm mm 2nd man in a tuxedo….but I digress.
We’re here in Pennsylvania for the wedding of evangelist David Corn (a former member of our youth department) and his beautiful bride, Joy. I wrote about this previously in my four T’s of anticipation post back in February. When he first asked 2nd man to be a 40 year old groomsman we chuckled at the cuteness of it. However, I figured it was a must for him. Last fall we were honored with one of our former teen girls having a daughter of ours in her wedding. Well, now it was 2nd man’s turn for the experience.
David was so very gracious. He, and Joy, gave out the customary gifts to the wedding party at the rehearsal dinner. However, they both gave a little speech about every person that was very sincere and well done. His speech about the 2nd man was humbling and so very gracious. Yes, I know I’m sounding like I’m bragging. It’s not my intent to be prideful…ever. For it’s the Lord’s work being done. However, this is my blog of thoughts so please bear with me in my pleasure of being the 2nd man’s wife.
He mentioned that although he’s traveled all over the country and beyond in the past year or two that he’s never encountered a better youth pastor than my 2nd man. That’s a pretty big statement and of course we don’t believe it to be true, but coming from a biased viewpoint. However, what a sweet gesture it was. Even more complimentary was the statement that he still remembered some of the messages preached by 2nd man while he was in our youth department…wow! Now that’s a compliment!
(Pause for wedding)
That stage really didn’t last so long after 2nd man and I got married. I worked as a teacher for a while and home matters became important to me. That’s when I moved into being a “pretty good youth pastor’s wife”. My list in the above paragraph started with some pretty vain and superficial things. That’s because teenagers, most of them, tend to weigh things heavily on the superficial. It was in this second stage that I started realizing myself, how vain and superficial these things were. I began growing more of a hunger for God as I matured personally and spiritually. However, I soon grew frustrated with the teens at this point. Wondering why they didn’t “get it.” I was frustrated at many of the decisions that they made and overall didn’t understand them. I had always thought I was given the gift of mercy. But it was at this point that I had begun dreaming up a book with the title “Losing Mercy.” It was like the mercy well ran dry.
It’s lately, as my kids are growing and (hopefully) I am too, that I feel like I’m growing back into a “good youth pastors wife”. Only, this time it is in a totally different way. Oh, I still get frustrated with the teens (don’t let me lead anyone astray in that area). We have some girls that place a person’s value fully on how they look. Others are so needy they’d wear out a listening dog. However, I feel that God has done a work in my heart with regards to extending mercy. I am able to find more time to meet with girls if needed and my own children are not as constant in the realm of training. We’ve now been in the ministry long enough to see some come through some really rough times and grow into Godly adults. That’s encouragement that supports my motto “They’re not who they’re going to be.” I still fail in my perspective sometimes, but on average, I’m able to enjoy the teens again. They’re vivacious and idealistic and so full of potential. Some of them are so much further in their walk with Christ than I was at their age. I can only imagine what great things God can do with them. Others…well…could care less.
2nd man just shared last night with the youth workers something that he heard recently that really spoke to me. He had been listening to another preacher who challenged ministers not to be “accusers of the brethren” before God. Constantly complaining about church members and trying to “sick” God on them, that’s Satan’s job. Ouch! I certainly don’t want to be doing the job of Satan! I’d rather be an intercessor for the brethren, especially our teens as they grow and learn. I’m so thankful for the mercy that is made new everyday to me…I sure do need it. I’d also like to extend that same mercy to others.
Maybe, some day, I’ll be a “great youth pastor’s wife” again. However, I think if I ever reach that stage again, it’s going to be in a much deeper, loving and spiritual way. Really, my only job is to be the best Christian I can be, serving, honoring, and glorifying my Lord. My prayer is that I would be as pleasing in his eyes as I possibly can be at whatever stage I am going through.
Wanted to share my introduction for a Sunday school lesson I’m teaching tomorrow in our Pastor’s wife’s Ladies class. I was really impressed by a recent book by Joanna Weaver and wanted to share a little. I definitely got the distraction thing down well, as you’ll see in the following paragraphs:
Luke 10:38-42. Oh yeah…. I’m going there. The old Mary and Martha story. However, I’d like to take a more understanding view of Martha here. Can I hear a shout out for those who can relate? I’ve been reading a book that was suggested to me a long time ago from a family member who loved it. I started it one day and laid it down only to pick it back up the other day and love, love, love it. Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver. Honestly, I haven’t even finished the entire book yet, but was intrigued by one of the beginning chapter subjects so much that I wanted to delve into it a little further. You’ll definitely understand why after I share with you what the latter part of my week has been like. Buckle your seat belts because I’m admittedly a bit of a frenetic personality.
I decided this week to start weaning myself off of sugar. I’m scared of diabetes and am halted at any weight loss even though I eat healthy most of the time. If anyone has ever done this it’s a bit of an overload at first. I don’t know what it’s like to come down off of a drug, but boy howdy Thursday was a doozy for me. I was thankful for the nice weather, because at least the kids could play outside while I was rendered somewhat useless and sluggish. By late afternoon, not a whole lot got done. Friday I did a little better, but was still feeling a draggin wagon. I was having trouble coming up with a lesson, let alone being able to sit and concentrate on one. I was even questioning why I said yes to to our pastor’s wife to teach her Sunday school class. That evening 2nd Man and I decided to go to bed early so we could get up early Saturday to prepare for our lessons and his preaching (Pastor and his wife are out of town this weekend). I expected sleep to come swiftly the way I felt most of the day, but it was one of those nights. I didn’t think I’d ever get to sleep due to the dishwasher seeming unusually loud and the banging of our open shed door outside. Finally, I did fall asleep and 2nd Man slept walked…twice. Let’s just say, when that happened, I didn’t exactly get back to sleep well with the adrenaline rush and all. I confess, the second time, I was frustrated and went out to the sofa, scared of being awakened again. Well, that didn’t exactly work well either. Of all nights, one of the dogs was sick. I awakened to that wonderful convulsing dog sound only to discover he’d been sick all over the house! By this time it was 4:00 a.m. and I figured I’d just stay awake and get working on this lesson. I’d had somewhat of an idea all week, but never had the time to develop it. Well, thank the Lord for sick dogs and sleep walking husbands, because I was able to actually start reading this book instead and was laughing at myself within minutes along with seeking forgiveness. I knew I’d been had by God. Ever have one of those times, where he leads you to something only to find it’s a mirror?
In her book, Weaver talks about Satan’s 3deadly Ds of destruction that can render a Christian useless for God. That is his aim after all. He knows that we belong to God and that can’t change. He can’t have us. However, if he can make it so we have no impact on the world around us for God, then that works just as well in his book. So here are the 3 Ds :
Weaver says, “Throughout time Satan has resorted to these tactics to bring down God’s best and brightest. The underlying strategy is fairly simple: Get peoples eyes off God and on their circumstances. Make them believe that their ‘happiness’ lies in the ‘happenings’ that surround them. Or send them good news – about somebody else. When they’re thoroughly discouraged, tell them God doesn’t care. Then sit back and let doubt do its work.
It’s really a brilliant strategy, when you think of it. Plant the deadly Ds deep in human hearts, and sooner or later people will destroy themselves.”
I’m praying that I can develop these points well for the ladies. It’s always nerve wracking to teach this class full of ladies from college to 90 when I’m used to dealing with teen girls. The array of facial expressions leaves one no choice but to solely lean into the leading of the Holy Spirit for any confidence and assurance. I really wouldn’t want it any other way.
My oldest daughter asked me this morning, “Momma, why is it that we have to take two full touring busses to camp, but only the little shuttle bus on teen outreach?” A poignant thought coming from a 10 year old, I think. My only response could be what I gave. “Honey, outreach means reaching outside of yourself, giving time, and attention to others, whereas camp is about getting. You get good preaching and lots of fun. Unfortunately most of the teens…and adults too, are more interested in the getting than the giving.” Sounds like a negative tone for the start of a blog post doesn’t it? However, it’s not all bad, and her question got me to really thinking about outreach.
When I was younger and growing up in church, I didn’t really know what outreach was all about. I heard the term church visitation, but my family didn’t really go and it all sounded so intimidating. My inner impression was, “They expect me, a 7th grader, to randomly knock on someone’s door and be invited in with open arms, show this random person who was awakened from their Saturday morning sleeping-in, how to get to heaven? Does that really work? What if they totally yell and chase me off with a shotgun or something?” I know these were the thoughts of a stretched imagination, but nothing in me wanted to go.
Fast-forward about 10 years when I find myself in Oklahoma, married to a youth pastor who wants to take kids on visitation. The first few years of our marriage, I had the attitude that this was his thing and ministry and Saturday was my only real day off, so I would have to stay home and do some housekeeping. Later, after the kids came along, I was able to use all my babies as excuses. Then, one day the Lord got a hold of my heart. No. That’s to gentle of a term. It’s more like he yanked it up toward his chin and inserted major conviction. If all these teens come faithfully, certainly, I could give it a try. I was convicted as a mother as well. I didn’t want my kids to grow up witnessing fear in their mother to invite someone to church or tell them about the Lord!
So, one Saturday I packed up the kids and surprised 2nd man by announcing that I would start coming to outreach, even if I had to push a stroller. You know what? It was easy! I should have trusted my 2nd man, well, and my Lord, the whole time. He didn’t throw teens to the wolves and expect miracles. Teen outreach is simply about easing them into the idea of reaching out and passing out tracts or invitations to our church. We walk neighborhoods and put the tracts on doors without disturbing anyone. If someone does happen to be outside or open the door we talk to them and either engage a witnessing opportunity or simply invite them to our church. Some may think it’s not “real” outreach, but I think it’s giving the teens an opportunity to serve God and, hopefully, giving God an opportunity to stretch and use them. Lets face it, people don’t just open their doors very prevalently anymore, it can be dangerous. Not that we don’t do it at all, there are times when 2nd man will choose someone to go along with him and actually knock on the doors looking for opportunity to share the gospel. However, by training them as a group this way, we’re hoping it will build their boldness and drive.
2nd man even makes it kind of fun. He drives us all around and lets us off in groups of at least 3 or four and gives us a few blocks at a time. The other youth worker ladies and I usually end up with the “kids” group. Between us, we have about 6 of our own kids that aren’t in the youth department yet. These kids spread like mercury out of one of those old glass thermometers. They can cover a neighborhood in no time flat. After a few pranks of 2nd man driving by our awaiting group and pretending like he’s forgotten us, we usually go out to lunch to wrap up the morning.
I know it’s still intimidating for many of the kids. That’s why I try not to be too harsh on those who don’t come, at least, the new ones who’ve never tried it. Our goal is to have 20 kids come. We don’t always reach that goal, but it’s the goal nonetheless. I actually find myself more in awe of the ones who do choose to come. I’m impressed with the teens in our youth department who choose to serve the Lord at such young age even if it isn’t “cool.” I wish I had been that way and I’m excited for them at the possibilities this could open up in their lives as they grow and serve the Lord. What blessings they will get to experience that those kids now that don’t come, and I, won’t ever get. I’m excited, also, for my own children who will think of it as normal and not such a scary deal as they grow older. It’s good training and especially exciting when we’re able to share with them that someone came to church because of their reaching out.
I’m so glad that God’s love covers our sins. I shudder to think of what a deep hole I’d have dug myself by now if I didn’t have his patient, sin-covering, love guiding and directing me. It’s shameful enough, how long it’s taken me to even follow that guidance. And shameful, still, how often I still fight it. I think if we all had crowns that depicted our character traits to the world I’d probably be wearing the crown of selfishness.
There are a few moments, or events rather, in my life that have given me glimpses of just how selfish I can be. I don’t really like to dwell on these things, but they have had a bearing on my role as a 2nd man’s wife. I even secretly wonder if they’ve played a role in holding back my 2nd man from having a better ministry or being who he could be had I submitted better to the Lord in my life. Some may even be humanly justifiable, however, I don’t want to be a person who has to rationalize why I didn’t respond in a godly manner to something or someone.
A couple of these events are those that I believe most people experience. Those were marriage and childbirth. No two events greater reveal the selfishness of a person. In getting married, the expectations are the real kicker. When the wedding is over, and the details of daily life become reality, it’s hard to get over those expectations. I remember being so frustrated at the 2nd man for not being able to read my mind. I would think to myself, “how could he not know that I’d want him to take out the trash?” or, “How could he not know what I wanted for my birthday?” Thankfully, I have been able to grow in this area, and though I still battle selfishness in marriage, hopefully, I’ve grown just through maturity.
Childbirth was the other big reveal. I’ve never met another mom who doesn’t relate to this. Even from the day I first went into labor, the battle of the will had begun. When the pain set in and the reality struck I looked at 2nd man and said, “I don’t want to do this, I want to go home.” We laugh now, but at that moment it seemed perfectly logical in my head. Then the nurse came in and told me the baby would have to be fed every 2 hours! Whaaaat!!! I thought I’d scoured every inch of that baby book, but somehow I missed that 2 hour number. Oh, that really threw me for a loop. Ever since then and every child since then has revealed how selfish I am and chipped away at that luxurious selfishness. All in all, I’ve gladly given it up.
However, there is one area of my life that has been a struggle for me and I’m glad to say that it gets better with age. That is the area of being a 2nd man’s wife in relation to acknowledgement. Just this past week I had a birthday and it was one of the best ever. One may wonder why, it wasn’t a big one (37), there was no large party, it was a quiet day that ended with a fun date with my husband. That’s just it, though, I wasn’t hung up on needing any acknowledgement.
When we were young in the ministry (and young in age) I had kind of expected people to acknowledge my big days like they did our pastor’s wife. I was so impressed, when we first came here, to see how many of the women were concerned over what would be done for the pastor’s wife for her birthday. Every year I’d have some of them approach me about helping them with a plan. When my birthday came around I was excited to see what might be done. Oh, I didn’t expect all the women of the church, but I was sure that the moms of teens or even the teens might do something or at least acknowledge. The day would come and go, year after year without any grandeur. Really, the same happened for 2nd man. But we won’t go there, (he’s always handled things better than me.)
I got really excited one year when a family in our church had let the staff know that the Lord had laid on their hearts to do something really special for the staff members. Not, for any birthdays or holidays, but just as a way to express thanks, I guess. Anyway, they took the pastor and his wife, and the outreach minister and his wife to Colorado to a nice cabin retreat. They provided all the meals and even made them very special for everyone. They took them on hikes and let them have an all around time of pampering and rest. We weren’t invited, because I had just had our third child a few months earlier and of course nobody wants a newborn on a relaxing trip. This, I understood. To make up for not being able to take us they did something different. For 2nd man it was front row seating to a Dallas Cowboys football game! 2nd man is a die-hard fan of the Dallas cowboys so this was like winning the lottery for him. They sent him with our song leader. They told me that I was to be treated to a queen for a day spa treatment in Tulsa with the man’s wife. I was really excited. It sounded like a great gift for a new mom especially. Time came and went and nothing more happened or was said. Finally, at Christmas the man handed me a card for a half hour massage at the local small town spa next door to the church offices.
Normally, I’d be ecstatic for a half hour massage. I mean, it’s not exactly a luxury I spend on myself, and I can appreciate the relaxation. I guess it was all the build up that got me. I had to really hide my disappointment at that one. But, really, that was a selfish response. I mean, they really did spoil 2nd man and he’s the actual one that’s on staff. However, that mean ugly selfish bug started to take root in my heart. When my birthday came around just a couple of months later, I found myself wondering if any of my gifts were even thought out, or just thrown at me out of obligation from the few friends who did acknowledge it. I shamefully admit it took me months to let go. Yet, I think it was a good thing for me. It was a release of thinking more highly of myself than I ought to. It forced me to come face to face with my selfishness and see that these birthdays and such aren’t really even a big deal.
This year, I was able to read all my little Facebook birthday wishes and truly appreciate them. The wonderful quiet time with my husband was fantastic since we don’t get away alone very often. Even my kids wowed me with homemade cards, (that I didn’t ask for) and a homemade chocolate cake, (that I did ask for). It was special and heartening. I pray that the Lord would not give up on me, and my selfish desires. It makes me want to sing that song, “He’s still working on me…” I only wish I had let him perform some of this work years ago, so I wouldn’t be so far behind the curve.