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 the ‘Prayer’ Category

Work In Progress

I spent all of yesterday and most of today curled up in the corner of one of the living room futons battling the worst respiratory “yuckiness” I’ve had in a long time.  Maybe ever.  Apart from the coughing, sneezing, and the occasional nap, I had much time to think and even did some praying.  Almost all of this thinking and praying was specifically for a family member who is hurting.  This big sister wishes she could do more than pray but the situation is so far out of my control it’s crazy.

My sister is hurting.  Big time.  Like “can’t-breathe-not-sure-how-to-keep-functioning” hurting.  The circumstance is so huge that it has hurt much of the family – my sister more than any other, but my kids have all gotten stung as well. My other sister, the husbands, my parents . . . all are a little hurt/frustrated/angry.  So take big sister anger and add some mama bear growl . . . let’s just say my first impulse when I heard about the situation a week ago was to jump on a plane and rush to the rescue; with violence, if necessary.

As I’ve prayed for my sister and her boys, I’ve also had to pray quite a bit about my own attitude.  I don’t want to forgive.  The offender hasn’t asked for forgiveness but forgiveness really isn’t about the other person, is it?  I mean, there are so many times when the other person doesn’t care if we forgive or not.  Forgiving is really about my releasing the right to seek revenge for the wrong.  In this case, the wrong was not directly visited on me.  But anyone who has ever been a big sister or a mom can tell you, I would probably be MORE forgiving if it was me – rather than my sister or my ducklings – that had been hurt directly.

I am an imperfect Jesus follower (aren’t we all!) and I know there are areas in which I need to grow.  This whole week has revealed a very big one for me.  I don’t want to forgive this person.  Right now this person shows no interest in being forgiven or trying to make amends.  But I’m only responsible my response, not the other person’s actions. And I REALLY DON’T WANT TO FORGIVE!!!  *sigh* So now I know what I need to work on –

I need to get better at forgiving.

I need to get better at extending grace when others have screwed up big time.

I need to look to the person who “took the direct hit” for my cue on how to respond.

But I’ve also realized that I can drop everything and be there for hurting family and not, even for a moment, regret the time spent.  In the time I’ve spent praying for this, I’ve been very honest about my feelings and asked for help growing up.  And I’ve tried to be very aware of the usual cliches offered in situations like this and (hopefully!) avoided them.

Regardless of the eventual outcome – this whole thing could drag on for a year at the least – I have just a couple things I hope will be true in the end:  (1) I want to be available as a sounding board/person to vent to/shoulder to cry on as often as possible and (2) I want to forgive the “guilty party” even if that person NEVER owns up to the hurtful actions.

Sometimes “adulting” is hard.

A Prayer for Pastor’s and Their Wives

Abba –

This being a Pastor’s wife thing is hard.  *sigh* Really hard.  Your kids can be really mean.  Sorry, but it’s true.  Some of them want me to do exactly what they say, nothing more and nothing less, and that stinks.  I’ve had to learn to hold my tongue and not speak up for myself over every petty little thing (I know, I know, it teaches me self-control and that’s a good thing) and some of them will never be happy with me no matter what I do.

But I know I’m not alone.  I know of other Pastor’s and their wives going through this and so much more.

My heart hurts for them.  One or two names in particular have wedged themselves into my brain and I can’t shake them loose.  So this is my prayer for them.

Surround them with your comfort and peace.  Remind them that those who are making life so challenging – and maybe even painful – are simply confused and truly think they are doing the right thing.  Let them know that you are crazy about them and remind them of the promise in Zephaniah 3:17 – “He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Help them to persevere in the face of disappointment, opposition, criticism . . . I don’t exactly know what they are facing but I know it’s going to take some extra help to come out on the other side with their personal integrity intact.

Let them know they are loved by others.  I know love them more perfectly than I ever could.  But you and I BOTH know that we silly humans sometimes need to feel love from someone with skin on.  Let me be that someone.  And since we’re talking about love, fill them with your love for those who seem determined to make life difficult.  Help them to live the words of Luke 6:28 – “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”  

Most of all, Dad, I want you to give them PEACE!!  Cranky church members will always be with us – some people just have to have something to complain about! – and sometimes it seems pointless to keep pressing forward.  I know those on my heart love you and want nothing more than to impact this world with your love.

And one last thing – as I think about and pray for these wonderful individuals this passage keeps running through my head.  I’m sure there’s a reason so I’m just going to leave it here ‘cuz I know that you’ll know why the two are connected!

 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.  I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Phillipians 3:7-14

Pastor’s and Their Wives

My mother shared an article with me today that both moved me to tears and encouraged my heart.  The article was written by Joe McKeever for the website “Church Leaders” and is entitled “Pastor, Remember Your Wife is the MOST Vulnerable Person in Your Church“.  If your pastor is indeed a man, please read the article.  I promise you it will provide insight into the weirdness that is her life and will provide you with ideas for encouraging and building her up (and, consequently, building up the entire family AND your pastor!) (Disclaimer – it may all work in reverse if your church has a Pastor’s husband or it may not.  Just don’t know enough from conversations with those men to say adamantly one way or the other!)

Just have to share a few of the quotes that most touched my heart and left me saying, “Yes!  That, right there.  That’s completely how I feel!”

“You might not think so, but she is the most vulnerable person in the building. That is to say, she is the single most likely person to become the victim of malicious gossip, sneaky innuendo, impossible expectations and pastoral frustrations.” Sadly, this has been true in every church where my husband has served as a member of the ministerial staff.  Things that would be perfectly acceptable of every other woman in the church would earn me a glare or vicious words.  I’ve watched others start new ministries or alter the structure and function of existing ministries and no one pitches a fit.  But let me make a suggestion or try something new and I’m in danger of setting off World War III.

“Her pain is magnified by one great reality: She cannot fight back. She cannot give a certain member a piece of her mind for criticizing the pastor’s children, cannot straighten out the deacon who is making life miserable for her husband, cannot stand up to the finance committee who, once again, failed to approve a needed raise, or the building and grounds committee that postponed repair work on the pastorium.” To the phrase “She cannot fight back” I would add “She cannot just go find another church.”  If the average person sitting in the pew finds herself in constant conflict with another member of the church and every attempt at resolution or reconciliation has failed, she can choose to find another place to worship.  Theoretically, I suppose I could to.  But the times I’ve heard of that happening have not ended well.  It often causes the church to lose trust in their pastor, increases tension and conflict for him, and will likely lead to his being asked to leave or choosing to leave to avoid the strife.

“Since her husband is subject to being called away from home at all hours, she is expected to understand this and have worked it out with the Lord from the time of her marriage—if not from the moment of her salvation—and to have no problem with it. If she complains about his being called out, she can expect no sympathy from the members. If she does voice her frustrations, what she hears is, “This is why we pay him the big salary,” and “Well, you married a preacher; what did you expect?” I have sent my husband off to the Emergency Room because a member of the church family was failing and his comfort was needed.  What few people realize is that I often spend a significant chunk of time praying for him to have the right words, for the family to find some measure of peace in the midst of their grief.  I cannot necessarily be there with him but I rarely sleep well until he is home.  And the next day I am up and off to work, sleep deprived and brain slightly foggy because it is what I have to do.  And it is my honor to hold him and the family up in prayer like that.  But there are times that people want their pastor to bail them out of situations that are not truly emergencies, merely an inconvenience.  It is not his job to run your child to school or pick your loved one up from work.  This may fit easily into his schedule without any inconvenience.  But if it doesn’t please understand that his family needs him too.  Here’s the kicker – my hubby was not in full-time ministry when we got married.  As a matter of fact, we will celebrate our 26th Anniversary in January of next year and he has been in full-time ministry for only about 10 of those.

I LOVE hearing my husband preach.  His work as a pastor has shaped him into an amazing man of God who seeks nothing more than to follow the leading of the Spirit and I love him to the moon and back for that!  But dealing with all the other nonsense – the judgment, the gossip, the anger, the expectations – can get exhausting.  I have been blessed to have a former pastor’s wife in our current church and she is one of the sweetest, most encouraging, most positive people I know.  She is truly a gift.  I have also started building a friendship with a young lady whose husband has plans to be in full-time ministry and it breaks my heart to hear her speak of these kinds of personal pains as just being a part of the whole clergy package.

This is obviously an issue that is near and dear to my heart because it’s not the first time I’ve blogged about it.  But it keeps happening.  Not only to me but to other wonderful clergy spouses I know.  Guess I’ll have to keep talking till people start listening.

A New Thing

I’m still here!  I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth despite my blog-related silence!!

When Yahweh decides to do a “new thing” in the life of one of his children, he doesn’t mess around.  I promise a much lengthier post soon – maybe a series of them the way things are going! – that will give you a glimpse into what he is doing.  Until then, I thought I would check in to let you know that I have not vanished.  I’ve merely been preoccupied with a major paradigm shift!

After the Silence

I did something really stupid. Not stupid enough to put anyone in danger of physical harm. Just stupid. Ran ahead with a plan that wasn’t the right one for me. And boy did I pay for it.

See, I’ve had this dream for years regarding a theater company that “specializes” in small cast musicals. Basically, that means shows with 12 people or less. In the last 18 months I have found myself talking about this dream repeatedly and things had slowly started to happen that led me to believe I might actually see this dream come true.

But that has nothing to do with my act of stupidity.  Well, not directly.

Due to a complete communications glitch, I assumed that hubby wanted something from that he didn’t necessarily want.  Okay, it wasn’t so much a glitch as it was me assuming something and not discussing it with him so he could clarify!  I ended up sending in my resume and application for a job based on that assumption, as well as pressure from others who thought they knew what was right for me.

THAT was the stupid part.  Here’s the thing – doors had opened to pursue this theater dream of mine that must have been pushed open by a divine hand.  After much prayer, I was convinced that God was saying, “Yep.  The theater thing.  That’s the direction to go.”  And somewhere along the line, I started making decisions in my limited, human “wisdom” and applied for a job without God leading me to it.  I forgot something very important –

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord.  “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

Yes, I know that this was originally spoken to the nation of Israel.  But I’m convicted and convinced that there is a truth here to be gleaned for me too.

Once I sent that resume and application in, things got VERY unsettled for me personally.  Nightmares, moments of panic, just feeling spiritually beaten down.  I vented to my wonderfully understanding hubby for a good two hours one night.  I had become almost frantic due to the fact that I was praying over the situation and hearing . . . well, . . . nothing.

Hubby’s response was interesting – “Maybe God has already made it clear what he wants and he isn’t going to repeat himself because he is waiting for you to get on track.”  Huh.  I’ve chewed over that since he said it.  I was so busy mulling it over that I completely stopped stressing over the application thing and ceased all efforts to see what, if anything, was going to happen there.  And I began thinking about my dream again.  And working on the dream again.  Somewhere along the line, I remembered the truth of that Jeremiah passage.

Today I had the first meeting to bring my dream to life.  Since then, three others have jumped on board to help make it happen and, thanks to the actions of a friend, I have another meeting for another piece of the puzzle next week. It’s moving forward faster than I expected.  The lesson is kind of obvious to me – once I  STOPPED trying to make something else happen, what God wanted to happen started coming together faster than I could have dreamed.

Here’s hoping I won’t forget this lesson and have to learn it AGAIN.

Looking for Loopholes

“. . . and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”  Matt.  6:9 (NLT)

The scripture above is a piece of what is commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer”.  This prayer is quoted in numerous Sunday morning gatherings across the globe each week.  Our worship gathering is no different but I must confess – I don’t automatically recite the Lord’s Prayer each week when I’m “supposed” to.  The reason is simple – I don’t want to EVER be guilty of mindless repetition when it comes to matters of faith.  I also don’t want to say words I don’t mean with the above being the best example!

Do I REALLY want God to use my level of forgiveness as a measure for how much he forgives me?!  On an exceptionally good day, maybe.  Most days?!  No thank you!  I would be fine with that statement if I was allowed an “exceptions” clause.

“. . . forgive me my sins as I have forgiven those who have asked for my forgiveness.”

Or how about . . .

“. . . forgive me my sins as I forgive those who sin against me and don’t ever do that “thing” I forgave them for again.” 

See, I could handle that statement if I had loopholes like those!  I don’t like the idea of having to forgive those that don’t seek forgiveness or forgiving those who have hurt me yet again.  And most of us, in our “human-ness” would give ourselves (and those we love) those “exceptions” (or should I say “exemptions”).

With Easter nearly upon us, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about events of Good Friday and Easter.  The following passage keeps running through my head:

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.  Luke 23:34 (NLT)

Those he was forgiving did not ask for forgiveness. As he was forgiving them, some of them were gambling for his clothes!  If I follow Christ’s example, the purpose of that phrase in the Lord’s prayer is clear and that’s what makes it so hard to say and really mean!!

” . . . forgive me my sins as I forgive those who speak cruel things about me to others.”

“. . . forgive me my sins as I forgive those who apologize again and again for hurtful behavior that never changes.”

” . . . forgive me my sins as I forgive those who hurt me and choose to defend their behavior rather than apologize.”

I know that type of forgiveness is the goal for those that are followers of Christ.  It’s just so hard to live out sometimes!

To Obey or Not Obey

As a parent, I remember times when my kids were young that they didn’t always understand why they weren’t allowed to do certain things or why I insisted that they do certain things.  There are times that a parent sees risk or danger that a child doesn’t see.  As a parent, I can also see the talents my children possess and I sometimes even know how to help them polish those talents! 

My Heavenly Father is even MORE equipped to know what is needed to polish off my rough edges and “grow” the gifts he has given me.  I wish I could say that last statement makes it easier to obey but the truth is, I can still dig in my heels like a petulant toddler, refusing to do what my Abba asks because I don’t understand why he’s asking or I don’t  like what he’s asking.

So here I am.  Called to alter (temporarily) a certain ministry involvement and I’m not sure why.  But I don’t need to know why.  I only need to remember that my Abba loves me, he wants to see me grow in my relationship with him and he never asks me to do things on a whim.  No clue where the current situation is leading.  But I’m going to obey.  I may have some people upset with me because they have different ideas about what I should be doing.  I tend to be a people pleaser so the attitudes of others is the one thing I fear most.  Nevertheless, I choose to obey.  I’m just a little curious to see how it all plays out!

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