Posted in Daily Musings, Life Lessons

Best of Times / Worst of Times

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…has that line been used yet?  I was trying really hard to get away from negativity in my blog posts, but I simply have to share some of our current woes with you. However, don’t take it as negative, no it truly is positive.  As a matter of fact, things are starting to get down right comical.  When it all gets too much we tend to laugh around this house…yes, we’re weird that way. 

            It all sort of continued when I came home the other day with smoke billowing out of our “good” car.  I’ve written about the other car, but really?  The good car now?  2nd man opened the hood, I’m not sure why, neither of us is mechanical.  But, somehow that’s what your instincts tell you to do when there’s smoke billowing.  He wanted to make sure it wasn’t something obvious.  I had called him on my way home because a dinging sound kept going off and a light that said, “Check gages.”  Now, you may be saying, “Duh!  Check your gages,” however; we’ve been prone to ignore our gages because of a non-recalled quirk in our vehicle.  The speedometer sometimes gets stuck and the gas gage can never be trusted.  So, I called home asking what the dinging was, but I was just around the corner anyway, so I kept going.  When he opened the hood he realized that the coolant was bone dry.  Then, yesterday a knocking sound started and 2nd man had to take the ol girl into the shop.   As it turns out it was a water pump.  This is good because a few hundred dollars sounded much better to him than a few thousand.
            This of course was the same day my middle daughter had an orthodontist appointment and we were told she’d be ready in a month.  The Orthodontist seemed to pick up on my nervous laugh and twitching eye and neck.  “We cooouuuuld possibly wait if there’s a financial problem.” he graciously proposed.  I kind of filled him in on the highlights of our spring so far: 2nd man’s medical tests, my crown/root canal, the dishwasher, the start of orthodontics for daughter #1, the broken boat motor that needed replacing, the broken finger on daughter #2, the shed door that broke off and of course the smoking truck.  He was convinced and said we could put it off a few months and didn’t even charge for that visit.  Whew!
            Last night our pastor offered to lend us his car while ours was in the shop.  He is going to be out of town anyway for a few days and wouldn’t need his own car.  As 2nd man and I drove my car over to pick it up we were laughing that I had to hold up the rearview mirror that came detached and was swinging by a wire.  When we got to Pastor’s house, he began to show us how we could start his car remotely so we wouldn’t have to get into a hot car when we went out and about.  To this we started chiding him for rubbing it in.  We all stood in his driveway laughing at the contrast of his car to my car that won’t die!  She’s falling apart all around, but her engine hums like a choir.   Funny the things that keep ya humble.  2nd man and I keep quoting Dolly Levi from “Hello Dolly” when she says, “money is like manure; it’s of no use unless it’s spread around.” 
My Lily of the Nile, unrelated to this post, but it makes me smile
            You may think all of this has us upset and forlorn, but the contrary is actually true.  Both 2nd man and I realize that it puts us in a position where we have to trust God.  Can that really be a bad place?  Oh, it’s uncomfortable when you look at the bank account and the well is dry.  But my God has worked many wonders greater than this and I know he’s not going to let us starve. (Although, a little starving probably wouldn’t hurt me right now J).  I fully trust God to help us through this tight spot and am actually looking forward to seeing how he works.  This should be quite interesting.  Of course I’m not going forth in my own confidence and I have been in much prayer seeking guidance and wisdom for the 2nd man and me, contemplating if I need to start cleaning houses or something.   I’ve also sought his face in asking if we have done anything wrong and to please let us know so we can get it right.  I really believe it’s the worst of times in a financial realm, but it’s the best of times in that we’re in a perfect position to see and witness God working.  Who can ask for anything better?

Posted in Daily Musings, Life Lessons

Refuge from the Storms

“Where could I go?  Oh where could I go?  Seeking a refuge from the storm.  Needing a friend to help me in the end, where could I go but to the Lord?”  That’s the song I’ve been singing lately.  I really like the words and the catchy tune too.  Don’t ask me to sing the tune though…you’ll regret it I promise.
            That’s what this spring has been like for many others and us too I suppose.  I know my last few posts have been whiney in nature and that’s not my intention for this blog.  However, I think the Lord is just really really trying to teach me something lately.  Since February, I’ve had a specific financial prayer asking the Lord to pay off something this spring that would be such a great blessing.  However, he hasn’t chosen to do that, at least not yet.  That’s ok, He’s still good and I’m not shaken by it.  I knew going in that his answer could be no.  Yet, instead of answering the way I desired, it seems like the opposite has happened and we’ve had so many outgoing expenses that our heads are spinning.  Just as we are all hearing of strange unexpected tornados hitting down every week around the country, we (personally) are having financial tornado hit down every week.  It’s a good time to seek refuge In the Lord.
            As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I haven’t blogged lately was because of one of these little tornados of ours.  Just last week, in the midst of finishing school, planning a housewarming for someone, getting ready to sign people up for camp and preparing a house for guests, I developed an abscessed tooth.  It was under a recent crown I had to have.  Now, people who know me well know I’d rather have another child than have dental work done.  The crown itself was a feat of bravery in my life on which I was standing tall and waving a flag.  Not long after getting it there seemed to be some pain.  So after working up my blood pressure and driving to the dentist while shaking all the way the dentist simply grinded it down to fit better and it didn’t hurt at all.  I just about passed out in the lobby from coming off of my own adrenaline though.  But, when this abscess started, I had to have 2nd man step in and take over.  I spent two days in utter pain.  By Tuesday evening I was in tears from the excruciating spikes of pain running through the side of my face and head.  He drove me up Thursday morning and they said the dreaded words…Root canal!  I’m ashamed to admit I broke down and cried right there in front of the whole dental staff.  Then when it was finally over I broke down again at the price!  2nd man was not pleased.  Oh, he wasn’t mad at me, but he wanted desperately to find some way for this to be the dentist’s fault so we could get a discount.  Sadly, this didn’t happen. 
            Thankfully, I was able to push through the recovery to get my house in order for our family from Pennsylvania to come visit.  We’ve had such a fantastic time.  The last time they were here, Jessica and I were both pregnant with our now four-year-old daughter and son.  It was June and 103degrees outside.  Needless to say we were both quite miserable.  So, I’ve been praying for good weather this time.  The Lord has been so gracious in this area.  Where we live, you can see storm fronts that are 20, maybe even 50 miles away.  Each evening we’ve been seeing these massive storms that never hit us.  Monday we had a great time outdoors picnicking and fishing and the rain didn’t come until right when we got home. 
            Some of this I am hesitant to be humorous about because one of these storms was the same front that hit Joplin, MO and leveled the town.  We take our Jr. campers to that same area for camp each year and I am just devastated for these people.  The very Wal-Mart and other stores that we’re familiar with are just demolished.  The hospital where I’ve been treated myself a few times…decimated.  It makes me shiver in the awe of what massive destruction weather can bring. And my prayers are with those affected by it.
            However, yesterday, we decided to take our families to Tulsa to The Incredible Pizza Company.  2nd man and Jessica have another cousin that lives down there and they are about our age with a young family as well.  We grazed our way through the pizza buffet and games all day and then decided to go across the street to the mall.  While there we realized, via the age of the smart phone, that there was a significant storm traveling across Oklahoma.  Realizing we shouldn’t drive into it we decided to wait it out at the mall with, apparently the rest of Tulsa.  I mean really, I was shocked at the amount of people at the mall until a lady explained to me that Tulsa doesn’t have storm shelters except the mall, so people go there when there is a storm.  Eventually they herded us all into the shelter/hallway/stairwell.  During our little family reunion in the stairwell, Brett (Jessica’s husband) decided that he wanted to see an Oklahoma storm, so he went to the doorways with about 50 other people.  Let’s just say he gained his second wind (no pun intended) after that.  With sirens blaring and wind blowing he finally was able to be coaxed back inside to calm his worried family, but he had to take some time to calm down himself.  When we finally got home at 11:00 that night he thanked 2nd man for a great day from beginning to end.  We were pleased to be able to give him a true Okie day. 
            Blessing number 2 for that day was the road condition.  We desperately need new tires on our truck.  When we went to get them replaced, the store didn’t have the ones we wanted or could afford in stock.  So traveling out of town came with some trepidation.  However, because the wind was so strong that night the roads were completely dry all the way home, even though it rained torrentially just moments beforehand.  God is soooo good and gracious in his provisions.  We may be spinning from the rotating door of our bank account, but God has provided so much more than we can count: safety, rest, the blessing of family, the blessing of family that we enjoy J healthy children in my arms, food on my table… I could literally go on and on.  I truly feel safe under His wings right now and no rush to run out. 
Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Life Lessons

Boy, Am I Glad it’s Monday

     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.
            Sunday morning, he didn’t come knocking on my kitchen window.  I leaned outside to call from the kitchen door…no Curly.  After a little while I looked out the front door and there was our sweet kitty laying in the front yard.  I called for 2nd man and he went out to confirm my fears.  It looked like a dog got him and he had been too hurt or sore to run away.  We were both sick.  I cried a bit and we both realized that we just couldn’t tell the kids during the hurried Sunday morning rush, we’d have to wait until after church.  Oh that was awful.  2nd man was so sickened and sad and a little bothered that he was so bothered. 
            After church we told the kids.  Our oldest daughter was immediately upset.  She’s not a real touchy, feely kinda girl, but had connected pretty closely with the cat.  Our middle daughter took it very maturely and our 4 year old boy… well…he didn’t quite get it yet.  He’s still pretty sure the cat will come alive again like in cartoons.  No, he’s not warped at all (wink wink). 
            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.
            To say I was feeling anti-social that evening was putting it lightly.  Mix into that a pie auction.  I’m not convinced that this is an appropriate fundraiser for a church.  Oh it brings in the money, no doubt.  It’s fun, and so interesting to see all the different kinds of pies people bake. Our mayor, who owns an auctioneering business, always does the honors pro bono for us and makes it a lot of fun.  However, it brings out a side in the women of the church that is plain ol ugly.  There’s so much pride, arrogance, opinion and estrogen in the room that I’m not convinced that the men aren’t bidding just to save their marriages.   2nd man was excited that it went so well at the end.  I was exhausted and not sure I wanted to be around women again, for a while.
            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.
Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Life Lessons

The stages of a Youth Pastor’s Wife part 1

     I used to be a “really great youth pastor’s wife.”  Back about thirteen years ago or so, I was young, pretty (a point that can always be debatable and not so important, but prettier than now anyway), I had a pre-childbearing fit figure, I had a desire to do whatever I could to help 2nd man in his ministry and the Lord with teenagers, I loved teens and most of all I had time.  Yes, that ever-elusive thing I’m always running out of these days.  Time to hang out, time to stay up late, and time to talk, listen and pray with teen girls. 
            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. 
            After about three years of marriage, the 2nd man and I started having children.  It was in this initial time period that I would qualify myself as simply “a youth pastors wife.  That’s about as far as I wanted to go with any kind of title.  My children became my main focus at this time.  The teens got on my nerves with their pettiness and I had no time for it in my mind or in reality.  Not much sleep, a total loss of that previous “fit” figure and constant training consumed my life.  I really didn’t see any hope of change or an end to this time period.  Everywhere we went took longer.  I had to juggle trying to get babies to sleep at camp without cramping anyone’s fun or style.  I did try to make it a point at conferences and camps not to let my kids’ presence take away from the teens’ time.  Looking back I get amazed at how many of the girls liked having little ones around.  I never enjoyed little kids.  Babysitting was one of my least favorite jobs as a teenager.  I know it’s shallow, but I couldn’t stand other peoples’ little kids.  Of course that changed when my own came along, but I never wanted to presume that the teens would be ok with my little kids, so I went to great pains to not let them get in the way of things, while also letting them enjoy some of the perks of getting to go to camps and conferences.  Needless to say, trying to walk that tightrope wore me out.  I would usually have a meltdown after each event. 
            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.
Posted in Life Lessons, My Interests, Parenting

Voice of the Martyrs and Meeting Gracia Burnham

A-mazing!!   That’s what Saturday was.  One of the things I was looking forward to (as mentioned in a previous post About the 4Ts of aniticipation Feb. 16, 2011) happened this weekend.  2nd man, our two daughters and I went to the headquarters of Voice of the Martyrs for a national conference.  I knew it would be a good day and would probably be a blessing.  But, I was so moved beyond tears that I’ve had a hard time even settling down enough to try and describe it.  Seriously, this is my third attempt at trying to put it into words.
I was a little taken aback by the fact that you couldn’t have cameras.  It drove home the reality that some of these people have to be careful because of the dangerous persecution that they could be under or could put others from their own countries under by association with them.  I would try to describe to you all of the wonderful, moving and heart wrenching stories these people shared, but it would take all day, and it did while we were there. 
We were impressed and amazed by a young, beautiful woman who goes into the dangerous jungles of Columbia with her father to spread the gospel.  She was fearless and full of faithful confidence in her Lord.  Wow, to have that boldness.  Then there was the gentleman from China who shared story after story of persecution of the Chinese.  Not stories from the past, but stories that are going on today, now in our world as we are going about our day.
Our children had quite a treat too.  The staff at Voice of the Martyrs had created a whole underground church for them out of boxes that were painted.  There was a secret tunnel to get inside there and even a prison cell.  Several of the speakers talked to them as well.  My girls were so impressed by Gracia Burnham, Tom White and the Columbian missionary’s daughter.  They got to make parachutes for the Columbians to drop over the jungle delivering radios set to Christian stations and Bible tracts.  They told me later that it was great and almost better than Bible School, which is a lot in my girls’ opinions. I was truly impressed with the level of excellence that the children’s program delivered.
Then of course there was Gracia Burnham.  The one who drew me to the conference in the first place.  Meeting the Pioneer woman a few weeks back was fantastic and exciting.  However, meeting Gracia was humbling, convicting, inspiring and just flat out awesome.  Not because of her alone, but because of what she has done through Christ.   I most certainly don’t ever wish to have the schooling of faith that she has been through, but I yearn so greatly to be so usable for Christ in such an amazing way.  Her ongoing prayer for those who were her captives is admirable as is her testimony of the entire event and how God has worked in her life since.  2nd man was impressed that even after all this time and multiple chances to share her testimony and so forth, she still gets moved by talking about her late husband and his testimony.  She challenged us to pray more and do more.
  2nd man and I had to go out to the car at the break that followed and just debrief a little.  Are we doing enough?  Does God really want us here? Or does he want us to go?  Where?  Japan?  Africa? Philippines? South America?  We’ve always tried to pray that we’d be willing to go wherever he leads.  But are we really meaning it?  Do we need a supernatural sign or a swift kick out of the plane to go?  Or does God just expect us to do it? 
One thing we know for sure is that wherever we are we need to be doing more no matter if we’re being called away or made to stay.  Honestly, it sometimes feels like we’re spending our time trying to convince Christian teens to act like Christians.  Not to mention ourselves, and all the adults around us too.  We are such a spoiled people here that we can get caught up and passionate, but it feels like it’s usually about our own selves instead of the souls of others. 
I found myself today praying so passionately for those Christian brothers and sisters in Christ who are in prisons or captivity around the world today and truly being able to enter into their needs.  What sweet time I was able to spend with the Lord and feeling like I was doing something, fighting for something in a real way not just routine.  How freeing it feels to be able to truly commune with God and have a real sense that he is there, listening and responding.  It’s almost like a part of my faith had been missing, lost in my utter selfishness.  For all of the complaints I have about life and little worries from day to day, I hope God will forgive and still use me or at least my family in some way to further his kingdom.  Across the world Christians are facing death of body by some terrorist or evil government, while we here in America are only asked to face death of self and so many (myself included) are unwilling to face that kind of death.
Gracia Burnahm and me after I’d been crying most of the day .

On a lighter note I have to give you my impression of meeting Gracia Burnham and her daughter too.  Can you say gracious?  Just like her name suggests.  I found myself just melting into her arms at first.  Here was my big chance to say all these wonderful thoughts about her and I was like a blubbering idiot.  Really, I’m so embarrassed by it.  I wanted to explain how I’d heard about her book from a missionary’s wife that was going into a persecuted nation and how it had touched me so deeply.  How I had left off all that I was supposed to do that day and just read through the entire book in one sitting etc.  But, there I stood feeling so overwhelmed by inadequacy that thankfully 2nd man stepped in and saved the day.  He started talking with her and they were like old friends.  She was so engaging and didn’t act like she was in a hurry to get away or anything.  She signed both of my books and hugged me again.  Wow!!  Sometimes you meet people like this and they want to be that way, but they’re just time constrained and too many people are around all wanting a piece of them so they are almost forced to act standoffish.  But she didn’t I was so honored to have bent her ear and to have my children meet her too!  Oh, I pray the impression will be burnt in their minds and memories. 

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

Spring Glimpses of God’s Work

Well, spring is definitely upon us here in Oklahoma, well, at least every other day.  Hopefully, the warmth will become more consistent so these allergies of mine can somehow slow down a bit.  Allergies and snot aside, I have to say this is one of my two favorite times of year.  Fall is nice, and my other favorite, but spring just seems to abound with life, hope and cheer.
The time change is one near and dear friend of mine.  I’ve heard so much complaining the past week about people wishing “they’d” just do away with the time change.  Then, Sunday was a real hoot watching all the people show up for main services thinking they were coming to Sunday school.  That one always cracks me up.  Of course then you have those people that just rant about “losing” and hour of sleep.  This doesn’t make much sense to me…it’s an hour…not a day.  Go to bed early, or take a nap or something, but stop complaining.  It’s gonnna be light longer!!!  (Or seem that way), enough for me.
However, the time change isn’t really my focus today.  Today, I’m consumed with the excitement of seeing God work.  I’m fully aware of Hebrews 11:1 “Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  But, what I mean here is that sometimes it seems like God gives us glimpses of his working in matters.  Kind of like when I go around my garden beds this time of year and start pulling away at the winter debris and last year’s spent growth to reveal, not a whole plant, put little peakers.  Small evidences of life that is wanting and waiting to spring forth.  It’s like little, green, waving hands that are saying, don’t give up!  There’s hope here!  Give me a little more time.
We seem to have several of these “little peakers” within our youth department right now.  I took one out for a coke the other day.  She’s one of our hopefuls.  Those of you in ministry understand.  One of those seemingly strong –beyond- her- years kind of girls for which we have high hopes.  Yet, recently she’s been wavering.  I’ve had her in my Wednesday night group.  I put her and a couple others there hoping to have a little help with the others in the group that I knew would be a challenge.  Instead, lets just say, I have the group that comes across more like late fall instead of early spring.  I go about asking our small group questions over the lesson that night and I get more response from the wall and carpet than any of these girls.  I’m not even talking about deep theological questions but those like “when we sin and act like the world how does that make God feel?” …response: chirp chirp chirp.  (that’s cricket sounds by the wayJ ).  Kind of a no brainer, but still, no responses.
I was really frustrated a few weeks ago and asked this girl to meet me at a local coffee shop after school.  I knew she was preparing for a trip to West Coast Baptist Bible College to view the school, yet she’s also holding out for a local college that, in my opinion, would be detrimental. Knowing this was coming up and watching some of her behavior lately, I wanted to pick her brain a little to see what was going on.  Turns out, the Wednesday night stuff is more of a “girl thing” with animosity running amuck among some of the factions in the group.  Yes, our teen department is imperfect and has cliques… Shocker!   Upon asking her of her future plans, she wavers a little, but has really felt the pull from God into some sort of missions.  With that said, I  tried to encourage her to stand up here and now.  I don’t underestimate the power of clique pressure, but sometimes teens don’t realize that they can do things here and now and not just in their future in a foreign land.  The talk went very well.  I’m thankful to say, that she is a girl who wisely listens to council and doesn’t just roll her eyes.  On her recent facebook posts from California she’s really on fire.  She was even able to share her testimony with someone on the plane trip out there.  Don’t know if she’ll choose that college, but she’s definitely trying to let the Lord guide.

Then, another peaker last week.  A girl approached me after our Wednesday night program.  She wanted to talk and I wasn’t about to turn her away.  She comes from a divorced home and lives with her dad and step mom.  I have to give a little history here.  Her step mom was actually in our youth department.  When she met her husband, we knew it was not a right choice for her.  He was not saved and seemed against the idea of ever being so.  Sure enough they married anyway, and when she came out of her rebellion and back to the Lord, it caused trouble.  She’s struggled patiently for years over this, knowing that she did wrong to begin with.  However, God has blessed her patience and testimony.  Over the course of the past year her husband started coming to church.  He did this mainly to try to bring some peace to the house between his daughter and wife.  Well, guess what happened…yep….he got saved!  He now is one of our helpers in children’s church!  Faithless me never thought I’d see the day.  I cried and cheered the day he was baptized. 

Well, as you might guess, this didn’t make the daughter happy.   She’s now thinking she’s created some kind of monster.  I asked her if he’s changed for the better to which she grouchily replied, “yes! Ughhhh now he’s like her (step mom).”  Anyway, she was full of questions.  I got the feeling that in some of them she was trying to shock me and get me to scold her or tell her how bad a girl she was.  She also looked me squarely in the face and said, “So how do you know the Bible’s even real?”  I responded and then she matter-of-factly let me know, “I just can’t give up my music, I don’t want to, I don’t want anybody to make me.”  I tried as gently as possible to tell her she didn’t have to.  She looked pretty perplexed by this response.  I continued explaining, “God doesn’t say you have to give up your music to be saved.  That’s not was salvation is.  He may work on you after the fact if it is wrong and something that should be given up.  But, nobody would be saved if they had to be perfect first.”  She seemed pleasantly shocked by this.  I think she was expecting me to be telling her how to dress and act and be.  She didn’t get saved that night, not even sure if she ever will.  However, I left with one of those exciting feelings that God had just given me a glimpse of his working on someone.  She’s definitely thinking and I challenged her to look up some verses after we met and ask God to show her her need. 
God has also sent us a couple of little spring encouragers.  There are currently a brother and sister visiting with us from out of state.  They home school so that they can travel with their mom and dad as their dad works construction around the country.  At first they were very quiet which is understandable.  Then, last weekend they joined us on outreach and got to know some of the kids.  The young mad went fishing with 2nd man and some other guys that very night.  Later, that weekend, they asked to be friends on facebook and 2nd man and I were just giggling over their excitement about our youth department.  We’re having a guy night and girl night activity later this week and they’ve gone on and on about it on their posts.  It’s kind of cute.  We know they’re only with us like two more weeks.  However, it’s been a shot in the arm for our teens and for the 2nd man and me.  I truly believed God sent them (probably among other reasons) to give us some encouragement.  Ain’t God good?
            There have even been more of these spring glimpses within our extended family.  I’m not going to go into those here, yet.  But, suffice it to say I’ve had enough to be reassured and reenergized in my faith.  I look around my yard and get so excited to get out in the dirt and work.  Then I look around my world and get the same feeling right now.  Oooh weee! That’s good stuff!
Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Life Lessons

Teaching the Ladies Sunday School Class

            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 :
  1. Distraction
  2. Discouragement
  3. Doubt
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.
Posted in Associate/Youth Pastor's Wife, Life Lessons, Marriage, Parenting

A Crown of Selfishness

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

Give Me Some Routine

            I thrive with routine.  Oh, I enjoy spontaneity, but I need routine.  The past two weeks have made me come to appreciate that.  With sickness, snowstorms, health tests and a birthday, I’m finding myself in need of a week without interruption. 
            A week and a half ago, during our first snowstorm the sprinkler system at our church burst and left 2 inches of water in our foyer and all of the staff offices.  Thankfully an emergency crew of members showed up to move all of the furniture out of the offices and into our Family Life Center.  This meant that, even though 2nd man was feeling better, he had to work from home.  Now, we get along terrifically, however, it still threw me off of routine having him here all day everyday.  It was a challenge for him as well.
     2nd man also had to have some medical tests done this past week due to some abdominal pains he’s dealt with for some time now.  It wasn’t necessarily anything major or life threatening, however, as I was in the waiting room I decided to finish a book I had started several weeks prior.  Evidence Not Seen  is the name of the book and one that I’d highly recommend…just not while your husband is undergoing medical testing.  I found myself reading a part of the book where this woman, in a Japanese prison camp during WW II finds out about the death of her husband in another prison camp.  Her faith and strength from the Lord is simply outstanding and convicting.  She even found herself witnessing to the cruel camp commander when he brought her into his office to discuss the situation.    I found myself sitting there bawling my eyes out as I read and praying, “Lord, why am I reading this now?  Please don’t let this be some sort of preparation.”  Sounds kind of silly and emotional huh?  But, it was a powerful feeling nonetheless.
     Later in the week 2nd man took me out for the evening for my birthday.  Dinner out is always a good gift for the stay at home mom.  No cooking, no dishes, nuff said.  After dinner and a little shopping we did my favorite new thing (if only it could be habit).  We went to Panera Bread Co. for coffee and scones.  I just love the atmosphere of calm music and trendy sandwiches, baked goods and coffee.  I wish so badly we had a Panera Bread Co. in our town.  I’d probably set up some sort of office from there.  I could just see myself recruiting for counseling appointments so that I could have coffee and scones.  We’d probably go broke in a year or less.  Or maybe I could get the church to provide a Panera fund? Hmmm? (pause typing for a far off thought wandering moment). 
            The kicker for the week is when we got a call this morning (3:30am) that an alarm was going off at the church.  2nd man went out to take care of it.  However, I find myself awake now with no hope of going back to sleep.  I started the coffee and watched a few DVR’d decorating shows.  Then I realized, I haven’t even had a chance to blog all week.  Somehow, with no routine, and family underfoot at all waking hours, I never found enough quiet time to put together some thoughts.  Such is life, so here I am doing it at 5am.  Just another hour and a half and the family will start waking.  Hopefully, I’ll be ready for them. 
     I’m so ready to get back to routine.  We’ll start this week off with church today.  Regular church.  No snow closings, or sprinkler rearranging.  Regular, routine, wonderful church services.  Then tomorrow I’ll send 2nd man off to the office and start school at a regular routine hour.  I may even find myself getting the house clean and dinner cooked.  I may be dreaming here, for I know that each day brings with it any number of variables.  I pray for plan A, but prepare to be flexible enough for plan B.  I’m just hoping the Lord agrees with my sense of needing plan A for a little while, for my own sanity’s sake.
Posted in Life Lessons, My Interests

Missionary Friend: Dalene Clark

            This is my dear friend Dalene.  She’s a missionary wife in Germany.  Her birthday was this week and that had me thinking about her and how special she is.  I met Dalene when 2nd man and I moved out here to Oklahoma in 1998.  She and her husband were doing their internship at out church and had been there only a few months by the time we arrived.  We had much that was not in common; she was already a mother, her background in a Christian school and Bible college weren’t anything like mine.  However, we had something that was in common, we were both young and new in the ministry.  This is a tie that can bond greatly. 
     I remember sitting in her driveway one night years ago.  We had been to some sort of event (I can’t even remember what it was).  Anyway, we both started opening up and sharing about the insecurities, and the challenges and criticisms of being in the ministry.  It was like a breath of relief for me that night.  I’ve said it before, but I’m really stunted one on one.  So when I do find dear friends in whom I can relate, I just cherish it so much in my heart.  I felt like she was affirming all of my new shocking awareness of being in the ministry. 
     I also remember being at summer camp in 1999. Dalene was there with us and we had our bunks next to each other just like the teen girls do.  It was then that I realized I might be pregnant for the first time.  We somehow got off campus and into the local Wal-Mart to get a test.  Back at the camp, we snuck into the nastiest abandoned bathroom there to take it and I found out that I was pregnant.  Somehow sharing that moment was again, so special to me.  I also miscarried that baby and Dalene was there to cry with me.
     When I was pregnant again with our oldest daughter, Dalene also played a special role.  She was pregnant with her third, which made my pregnancy so much more fun, being able to share and compare.  The day I had Katie, I was up early and feeling the pain.  I called Dalene first, (scared that if I was just overreacting, others would laugh at me).  I told her what I was feeling, to which she replied, “It sounds like you’re starting labor!  Just relax and take a walk, though, it’s gonna be a while before anything happens.”  I remember hanging up the phone and dropping to my knees in pain.  “Wow!” I thought to myself, “She must be like a super-hero momma or something.  Walk?!  I can’t even stand!”  Katie, arrived just a couple of hours later and Dalene and I both laughed about that one. 
     Three months later her daughter, Kyndall, was born and not long after that, they boarded the plane for Germany.  I respect Dalene, for her bravery and willingness to follow God and her husband wherever they lead her, away from her parents and family, and away from friends and familiarity.  She studied all about the culture and had to learn how to cook differently.  She even gave birth to two more kids over there!  2nd man and I have often prayed that we’d be willing if God should lead us into missions.  So far, no calling.  However, if He ever did, I hope I have the bravery and gusto of Dalene Clark.
     I don’t get to talk to her much anymore.  We sometimes keep in contact via emails and such, but, I do miss her camaraderie and vigor. 
    Happy Birthday, Dalene.  I pray that God blesses you beyond measure this next year.