I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Archive for February, 2013

Silence

IMG_20130227_140532On February 27th, I made a choice to join with two organizations that are working to fight human trafficking – International Justice Mission (IJM) and End It Movement – in their social networking blackout.  Those who took part in the day disappeared from all social media networks as a reminder and in honor of the estimated 27 million people worldwide who are living in slavery.

Before you say, “What good did it do those in slavery to have a bunch of people stay off Facebook for a day?”  let me explain something.  The idea was a simple one – the 27 million or so who live every day in slavery do not have a voice.  They cannot express themselves to friends, family, and acquaintances on a whim.  They cannot rant about the slow service they experienced at a fast food joint or quote song lyrics just because they want to.  They live every day in terror, hoping to avoid angering those that own them.  (Some experts state that human trafficking is the second most profitable business in the world, second only to drug running.)  The blackout wasn’t about rescuing people.  It was to allow those of us who are free to have a small taste of what it is like for those who cannot speak whenever they want to whomever they want.

I jumped on the blackout bandwagon and told Twitter and Facebook “farewell” late in the day on the 26th.  When I woke up on the 27th, I was reminded of my pledge due to the fact that I had turned my background on my phone black.  It took me all of an hour to feel grumpy with myself for making the commitment to stay off of social media (I also chose to add social bookmarking so no Pinterest for me either).  And within seconds after whining to myself, I was slightly ashamed.  I am a free woman.  I have not been forced into either slave labor or sexual slavery.  My sisters, my daughters, so many young people I care about are safe and out of harm’s way.  27 million people in the world cannot speak for themselves AT ALL and I’m going to get cranky over a self-imposed social networking blackout?!?!

I learned something yesterday.  Actually, I was reminded of something yesterday.  I am blessed beyond what I deserve.  I have four healthy children who are NOT enslaved.  I am able to send messages to my loved ones whenever I choose and they are able to respond in like fashion.  I am more determined than ever to educate myself and others as to the tricks traffickers use.  I am more certain now than ever that I must speak up when I can, donate what resources I can, and take whatever action I can to increase our understanding of this epidemic and, hopefully, see it’s downfall in my children’s lifetime.  I may not be able to free all 27 million.  But I can do my research, find ways to financially support those on the front lines of the fight and I can PRAY.  How about you?

**Note about the photo – the necklace comes from The A21 Campaign as a part of their “Key2Free” annual project.  Check out the link for more information!

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Unexpected Turns

In the midst of all of my seeking I got an unexpected ministry offer today.  Actually, it came to hubby’s email first.  Then he forwarded it on to me.  Now there is a decision to be made.

Not ready to give many details yet since I haven’t made my final decision.  But I can give the following information:

1.  It hits on a couple of areas of passion that matter quite a bit to me.

2.  It wouldn’t be a HUGE time involvement.

3.  It would give me the chance to get more involved with our Women’s Ministries at the regional level.

Still need to chat with hubby about the possibility – weight the pros and cons for our family, get his insight on whether or not he thinks I’m up to the task, etc.

This doesn’t really settle any of the other “stuff”.  But in a weird way it is encouraging.  It’s a reminder that God may be asking me to take a “sabbatical” from one ministry involvement but that doesn’t mean he has nothing for me to do!

Peace-Seeking Mission Continued

The clouds and confusion are clearing a bit.  Not to say that things are yet perfectly spelled out for me, but I am beginning to get a sense of direction.  Haven’t heard the word “Go!” just yet but I believe it’s coming.  Yay!  Kind of.

There is one little personal revelation I’ve been confronted with that is less than “yay-worthy”.  I’m a people pleaser.  (Pause so that those who know me well can insert a “Duh!”.)  Mom’s love this quality in a toddler since it makes for an easy to discipline/control child.  In an adult?  Not such a good thing.

I am naturally a “demonstrative” worshipper.  Hands raised, eyes closed, maybe the feet moving just a bit (won’t actually say “dancing” – we ARE talking about church here people!).  I’ve even found myself kneeling if the Spirit so moves.  This type of worship reaction doesn’t always go over so well in some churches.  Just a side note – those of a more reserved worship nature can find their particular bent rather unwelcome in certain churches.  Let’s just say we churchgoing folk can get really worked up about those who do or don’t worship like us!

I’ve been very convicted in the last 24 hours or so that ONE of the hindrances – only one, there are others – I need to deal with is the fact that I have ignored the leading of the Spirit lately because I’m afraid people will talk if I raise my hands or close my eyes or move my feet.  I shouldn’t worry what they think, right?  I should act as the Spirit leads, right?  Right, and right.  But I still struggle.  As a Pastor’s wife (and former Pastor’s kid) I know how it will lay out if people are unhappy with me.  They won’t come to me and try to understand my motives better.  They will either bad-mouth me to one another or, even worse, go gripe to my husband.  Not sure why they do that.  Do they think it’s his job to rein me in?!  He’s an amazing man and I love him more than life but that’s not a job for him.  Trust me!

So I’ve reached a point where I can pray a little more specifically, with a little more awareness of what the Spirit is asking of me.  The journey is far from over and all the lessons far from completely learned.  But this one piece is something I can begin to deal with right now!

Peace-seeking Mission

From the very beginning of my memory, music was an integral part of my faith expression.  I can remember sitting in the “old” sanctuary of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Farmington, New Mexico – I must have been somewhere between 4 and 5 years of age – and watching the college group give a performance of a cantata/musical on the life of Christ “He Lived a Good Life”.  We somehow ended up with the record of the show.  (Yes, record.  Vinyl.)  40 years later, I can still sing some of those songs without missing a lyric.  When Emmanuel built their new sanctuary, I can remember sitting in the pews, basking in the amazing sounds of the adult choir as they rehearsed the Gather Easter cantata “Alleluia” or the bi-centennial celebration musical entitled “Fabric of Freedom” and a personal favorite – “The Apostle” based on the life of Paul.  And yes, there are still some songs from each of those that I remember.  Songs I learned as a child that can still be recalled decades later!!

Those memories aren’t just pleasant.  There was something overwhelming in each of them.  I can remember the choir being moved to tears during a performance of “Alleluia” and being overcome myself.  As a small child, watching a song touch your own father to such a depth that tears pour down his cheeks?  That’s powerful.

As if that wasn’t enough, I was surrounded by music at home.  My mother and father both sang (daddy’s a bass, mom’s an alto) and there was a piano in the home.  I began taking piano lessons at the age of 4 and 1/2.  The record player was always full of music, usually LOTS of southern gospel!

I could go on for quite some time about powerful music services I’ve been in, worship songs that have impacted my life in intense ways, songs that have helped with emotional healing at a time when it was most needed.  Hopefully, you get the idea that music is a powerful, even necessary piece of my faith-walk.  This is especially true of music in a community setting; congregational, if you prefer that word.

Lately, I feel completely directionless and uninspired in the area of music as it connects to my faith and it hurts.  I don’t know what the cause is and to start speculating would be useless.  I don’t know what the cure is.  All I know is that I seem to just be going through the motions lately.  Every so often one song will strike a chord with me.  And there are times in my private music listening moments that my heart is touched, my emotions are stirred, I am comforted.  But it’s not happening in community and I don’t know why.

You’re going to say I should pray about it.  You would be absolutely right.  I have been. For months.  And I’m no closer to understanding my situation or finding a solution than I was when I started.  So I will keep praying.  I will find times to simply “be still and know that He is God” (Psalm 46:10).  Some of you might suggest I speak to my Pastor.  Well, that’s kind of a weird situation – my Pastor is my hubby.  I don’t really want to dump this on him.  So I’m praying about seeking counsel elsewhere (don’t worry – I’m doing that with hubby’s blessing and we are praying together about the situation as a whole!).

God never wastes anything so I’m sure there is a lesson in this regardless of the cause or the outcome.  And if you feel led to pray, I would certainly appreciate it!

Why Do (or Don’t) I?

As a Pastor’s wife, this time of year guarantees me that I will get asked at least one question, possibly two.  The first is, “What are you giving up for Lent?” which is often followed by “What time is your church’s Ash Wednesday service?”

I don’t enjoy getting these questions.  Mostly because my answers are not usually what people are looking for.  I don’t give things up for Lent.  When I was in high school, I had several friends that were practicing Catholics.  I asked one of them once why they were expected to give something up for Lent.  Her answer?  “So we can gain a better understanding of Jesus since he sacrificed for us.”  I like the thought.  But listening to people whine about not being able to have whatever food item they gave up was annoying.  Yes, I said it.  Annoying!  And I’m fairly certain that sacrificing chocolate and whining about it does not help one grow closer to God.  In recent years, people have given better explanations for Lent some of which I am still reading over and praying through.  And the number of days involved in Lent has an explanation that is influenced by man-made regulation (which is always a call to proceed with caution for me!)- it’s based on the 40 days that Christ spent in the wilderness before beginning his ministry but it’s actually 46 days in length because the church prohibited fasting or penance on Sunday since it was supposed to be a day of celebration.

Let me be very clear – I have no problem with those who observe the practice of giving something up for Lent or who make attending an Ash Wednesday service a priority.  For me, I don’t want to participate in any ritual just for the sake of outward appearances.  We get into trouble when we focus on the outward.  Remember King Saul?  The nation of Israel wanted a king so they could be like all the other nations.  They chose Saul because he was tall and good-looking.  But he did not have a heart for God. In I Samuel 16:7 we read –

But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 

In my recent past, I had a friend who impressed me with her approach to Lent.  She and I hung out together in eating establishments on a frequent basis (it’s what we theater geeks do after a show, we go out to eat!).  I figured out what she had given up for Lent simply because I knew her eating and beverage habits before Lent and went out with her often enough during Lent to see a change.  She never said a word about it.  In a weird way, I deeply respected her for that.  When the Lenten season ended, she went back to her normal beverage consumption as though nothing had happened.

I’m not against participating in Ash Wednesday (which no one has ever attempted to explain to me) or the Lenten season.  But I don’t want to participate just for the sake of “looking spiritual”.  Behaviors that are done simply for others to see?  Yeah, the Bible has something to say about that too!

Matt. 6:1 – “Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them.  If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” 

Our church engages in the choral recitation of The Lord’s Prayer as a part of the Sunday service each week.  If I cannot mean each and every word of that prayer, I keep my mouth shut.  I know it from memory, and can recite it on command.  But if I babble meaninglessly, then I am violating the command in Matt. 6:7 – 

“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”

 (By the way, The Lord’s Prayer starts in Matt. 6:9!)

So, once again, I will not participate in Lent in the traditional sense (a friend did issue a challenge about speaking encouragement into the lives of those around us and that I will be taking part of) and I will not attend an Ash Wednesday service.  I’m not saying I will never participate.  If any of you reading this are able to provide some insight – and especially scriptural support! – for these practices, I’d be more than happy to change my participation level in years to come!!

Video

Song for Sunday!

Growing Up

What is about to follow may end up sounding like a rant but I just cannot get this off my mind.

Hubby and I took our youngest daughter on a visit to the college she is planning to attend in the fall.  There were a significant number of students there and they were all being honored for earning one of the academic scholarships that the college has available (they have varying levels based on grade point and test scores).  In the opening session, some introductions were made and instructions given.  As they were getting ready to dismiss the students to their seminars and the parents to their COMPLETELY SEPARATE seminars, one mother just a couple seats down from me, leaned up (we were sitting near the front) and got the attention of the gentleman who had been giving the instructions (he was an administrator of some sort). She said, “It’s okay if I go with my student to her seminars, right?”  Without missing a beat the gentleman responded, “No.  You will need to go to one of the parent seminars.”  The student in question walked away with a smile on her face and the woman turned to her husband and said, “This is ridiculous.  How am I supposed to know if she asks all the right questions?!  There are things that I need to know so we can choose her college!”  I wanted to turn to her and say, “Ma’am, you’re daughter is obviously intelligent enough to win an academic scholarship, I’m pretty sure she can choose her college on her own and I’ll bet she can also figure out what questions she needs to ask!”  I kept seeing this woman all over campus as we went to lunch, toured the residence halls, etc.  And EVERY time I saw her, she was bugging some faculty or staff member with question after question.  I even saw her family walking with one of the tour guides (a current student) and MOM was walking next to the guide asking dozens of questions while her daughter – the potential student – was walking behind saying nothing.  Seriously, lady.  CUT THE CORD ALREADY!!!

I teach as an adjunct professor at a local Community College and I can tell you that the Family Educational Right to Privacy Act means that a student over the age of 18 has the right to expect that their educational information will not be shared with anyone.  Not even mommy and daddy.  This woman is in for a rough year next year.

Sadly, this lady is not an exception.  Colleges are having to take a tough stance with parents because there are many out there like the crazy lady that I saw today.  The intentional separation of parents at visitation weekends is just one step.  Some colleges are also going to a specific “check out” time for parents when they drop their students off in the fall.  In other words, at the time set by the college, the parents are asked to hug their student good-bye and leave!

Why does this bug me?  “Helicopter parents”, as they are not-so-affectionately known, cripple their children.  When we let our young adult or adult off-spring make their own decisions they may make a bad one (or two or three or . . . ).  But they have to make their own mistakes and learn from them.  It would be SOOOOO much easier if we could list for them all of our bad decisions and know that they would learn from our mistakes.  But they have to make their own mistakes.  They have to learn their own lessons.   Don’t get me wrong – I did ask the campus tour guide a question or two (about laundry facilities and mail delivery) and I asked one question in a parents Q & A about financial aid and general academic information.  I am NOT advocating total hands-off disinterest. But my daughter’s choice of college is HER choice.  She will be the one living on campus, taking classes, making friends . . . I’ve had my college experience and it’s time for her to get hers.

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