Archive for April, 2014

Parenting in Weakness: A 3-part Series

Monday, April 28th, 2014

parenting

So, for the next 3 weeks, I’ve decided to post a series of 3 articles on Parenting. I’ve called it Parenting in Weakness, because that’s what I’m good at–weakness. I’m not a parenting guru. I’m often disappointed by my inconsistency. I often wish I was more structured, more creative, more ______________. But Jesus DOES speak to my heart in this parenting gig, and if I slow down long enough, I hear Him.

The truth is that Jesus is transforming weak people, because that’s all He has. And that’s what He’s good at. Here’s the first part in that Story:

parenting

It happened one day while I was changing sheets. I lifted the pillow and saw a pile of gold, shiny wrappers. My eyes followed the trail to the floor behind the headboard. More gold, shiny, EMPTY wrappers. Someone enjoyed a major bout of candy consumption in secret.

There’s a phrase we use in our house: if you’re doing something in secret, it probably means it’s wrong. I mean, not even “probably”, more like there’s a 99.9% chance that it’s wrong. My kids are just like yours (and we’re just like them, but that’s another story). They hide the things they don’t want other people to see.

I’ve prided myself on applying this little nugget of truth about human nature to my children’s lives. It’s true. Secrecy should raise a red flag. But something was gnawing at me last week. Just because they understand something is wrong doesn’t mean they’ll actually do something about it. Perhaps, unintentionally, I’d even heaped more guilt on their fragile hearts.

So, in a moment when I was quiet enough to hear the Spirit’s whisper, I tweaked my prized parenting philosophy to: if you’re doing something in secret, ask for help. If you’re hiding, SEEK. Because really, I want to be a safe place for my children to ask for help in temptation and even full blown sin, because that’s what Jesus offers me, nothing less. I don’t just want the alarm to go off and scream: that’s wrong! I wan’t them to have a helper in their time of need and right now, in this stage of their lives, I’m Jesus’ representative of grace, mercy, and help to them.

Sadly, the truth is that their sin inconveniences me, so I’m not always the safe place I long to be. I get angry with their repeated sin, but you probably don’t notice, because it’s in secret. And this is where we’re really in the same boat as our children. We need Jesus to enter into the secret places to show us that he’s better than a thousand pieces of candy or the control and ease I long for.

 /////////////

“It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are . . . because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing.” –Frederick Buechner, Telling Secrets

Part 2: That’s Not Fair

Part 3: Know Your Kids

Friday Favorites: April 25

Friday, April 25th, 2014

friday, pic monkey

Cutting to the chase today. Company coming to town. {See, I’m not even writing in complete sentences.}

Favorite Instagram:

spring, sunset, backlight

I’ve really enjoyed experimenting with backlighting this week at dusk. The sun gives off such a beautiful glow in the evening. This photo was my most popular one on Instagram ever (which probably isn’t saying much, but hey…). Check out my Instagram sidebar to see my other #sunset photos. I think this just might turn into a recurring project.

Favorite App:

app

Ok, it might be a little soon to call this a “favorite” since I just downloaded it this week, but it’s a well-educated guess. Each week, Checkout 51 posts a list of offers in your area. When you buy the items on the list, you earn a rebate. For instance, if you buy a gallon of milk, you get a 50 cent rebate in your account. All you have to do is upload your receipt. When your account reaches $20, they send you a check in the mail. Yes! Some of the items on the list are things I usually purchase anyway, so I’m basically getting paid to shop. Check out Checkout 51 here.

Song I’ve been listening to all week (every day, more than once a day):

Kills me every time. So good.

Happy Friday! Any favorites from your week you’d like to report? Tell me about ’em.

What’s It Like to be the Pastor’s Wife?

Monday, April 21st, 2014

I get this question a lot. In fact, recently I asked my readers on FB to choose a topic for me to write on and this question sparked the most interest. It’s a tricky question to address, but I’ve decided to answer from a wide-angle perspective to protect the innocent–the congregation where we serve and my husband (the pastor).

I don’t really think of myself as fitting the traditional mold of a pastor’s wife. I don’t play the organ, lead women’s ministries ( we already have a fantastic lady doing that), or keep an immaculate house. I don’t think of myself as that sophisticated either, in the guv-nah’s wife sort of way. I don’t look like this:

 

pastor, wife, pastor's wife

 

or this:

pastor, wife

 

What I can say is that I’m a sinner saved by grace and a work in progress needing GRACE every hour (and minute and second), which means I’m a lot like you.

But, as I’ve pondered the question over the past few months, here’s what I’ve come up with so far (ask me again in 10 years).

#1 It’s joy-filled.

I bet you didn’t expect that answer for #1, but it really is. The greatest thing is all the people  I ‘ve had the privilege of meeting in the congregation that I  probably wouldn’t have, otherwise. I also think the “position” ( I don’t really like that term since I’m not the one who was hired) lends itself to being involved over a wide variety of circles, rather than a small clique. I have friends who are in their 60s and friends who are in their 20s. It’s a beautiful thing.

I also enjoy having people over.  I always have, even before I was a pastor’s wife. So, I guess I do fit the traditional mold in that way. I continue to pray that my house is a haven for those who are hurting and those who are happy. Stop by anytime. I mean it.

In conclusion:  Joy comes from knowing people. And, I think that’s one of the reasons we went into ministry in the first place. Win-win.

#2 It’s hard.

Have you ever walked into a room where 300 people know your name and you don’t know  anyone’s? (It’s probably one of your recurring nightmares.) It’s a bit intimidating. That’s when the fishbowl metaphor works. Sometimes I’m in a bad mood, and I don’t want to walk into a room where 300 people know my name (sorry, Cheers). I want to remain anonymous.

Even more, when it’s hard for my husband, it’s hard for me. Being a pastor is an emotionally draining job, for lots of good reasons and sad ones, too. It can feel like an emotional roller coaster at times. We’re both learning to live in the light of Jesus’ promises more than what our eyes can see (or how high or low the roller coaster goes).

#3 It’s better than being the pastor’s girlfriend.

Hahaha. That’s not an original quote. My friend, Kristi James, thought of that brilliant quip when someone asked her the same question. {Check out her blog at andbabiesdontkeep.com ; she’s hilarious.} But seriously, it’s true. I married Duane, without knowing that he’d one day be a pastor, because I wanted to marry HIM.

Knowing what I know now,  I’d do it all over again.

Friday Favorites: Good Friday edition

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Friday Favorites

Good morning.

It’s Good Friday, the day we mourn the crucifixion of Jesus.

It’s also Stephen’s 8th birthday (why do they keep getting older?). A few days ago, Stephen said to me: “Mom, I wish my birthday was on Easter, because that’s when Jesus rose from the dead. ” Yes!

A couple of days later, he told me that his stuffed animal, PJ, was the preacher on the ship that all the other stuffed animals ride on. I love this kid’s mind, but even more, I love what the Sprit is doing in his heart.

Easter is my absolute favorite day of the year. Not because of floral prints, or white sandals with painted toenails, or even chocolate bunnies (well, maybe if they’re Godiva).  Easter is the most joyful celebration of Jesus we have this side of heaven. I wake the kids up every Easter morning by exclaiming: Christ is Risen! And they respond in their sleepy voices: He is risen indeed! Then, I can hardly wait for the worship service, when it seems like our voices raise even higher and we could sing forever. I’m pretty sure I could sing “Up from the Grave He Arose” twenty times and not be bored.

ThriveMoms tweeted this week, asking what songs prepare you most for Good Friday and Easter. One song that I love is Keith and Kristin Getty’s See What a Morning. But, here’s a song that you may not sing in church by All Sons and Daughters called Buried in the Grave.

There was a day we held our breath
And felt the sting of bitter death
When all our hopes were buried in the grave
Our eyes awake our hearts were torn
Between our faith and what we knew
Before our king was buried in the grave

There was a day we looked for proof
That you had risen from the tomb
And all our doubts began to roll away
We touched the scars upon your hands
You kept your word
Oh son of man
You buried death by taking on the grave.

Just beautiful.

I hope you have time to slow down and reflect this weekend on the work Jesus did on our behalf. I’ll be wrapping presents, baking a cake, stuffing eggs, but with Joy in my heart because Christ is Risen. He is risen, indeed.

I’ll leave you with a couple of lines from another divine songwriter of sorts, John Donne.
He’s a bit older than All Sons and Daughters. : )

From Resurrection, imperfect.

“Sleep sleep old Sun, thou canst have repast
As yet, the wound thou took’st on Friday last;
Sleepe then, and rest; The world may bear thy stay,
A better Sun rose before thee today.”

*Friday favorites graphic inspired by the PicMonkey blog: Graphic Design for Weddings

Photo Feature Wednesday: New Orleans

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Photo Feature graphic, PicMonkey

It’s that time again…Photo Feature Wednesday, starring my photos from our recent trip to New Orleans. Enjoy.

It’s such a lovely place, my heart hurts.

 

 

Friday Favorites: April 11th

Friday, April 11th, 2014

FridayFavoritesApril11

Happy Friday everyone.

Winter finally seems like it’s on its way out, though I see an evil 55º day in the 5 day forecast. For today though, it’s like living in Southern California and I like it!

There’s a couple of videos I viewed this week that are truly worth sharing.

The first one is a short clip from a candid interview with Bono about his faith. I loved that there wasn’t an ounce of hesitation in his voice.

The second is a TEdTalk from research professor Brenae Brown. Her talk on vulnerability rocked my world. I realize I’m late to the party since her talk already has 12 million views, but if you haven’t seen it, it’s 20 minutes well spent.

If you watched the videos, let me know what struck you about either or both of them.

Enjoy your weekend.

the things we do for L O V E

Monday, April 7th, 2014

The Things We Do For Love

Two days ago, we woke up at 4:30am, stumbled bleary-eyed into the shower, then crammed all 4 sleep-walking kids into the minivan for a 12-hour drive to an award ceremony for our daughter. If you follow the blog at all, you know that Abby won 2nd place in her age bracket in the Carl Sandburg student poetry contest. Shortly after we found out that she won, we also found out that the reception would take place while we were away for spring break. Erg.

Duane and I were really disappointed, but immediately thought that we just couldn’t do it. We’d had the trip planned for many months. I couldn’t get it off my mind, though. I asked the teacher what the reception would be like. She told me via email that there would be a published poet there to speak to the kids, each winner would receive a journal, and they would have the opportunity to read the poems out loud. While I was reading her email, Duane happened to run into the teacher at the kids’ school and she told him the same thing. He came home, we looked each other in the eye, and agreed: she needs to go.

There were many things we needed to forfeit to make it happen: a leisurely cup of coffee before we hit the road (who am I kidding? We have 4 kids. Leisurely is NOT part of our vocabulary), a hot breakfast, SLEEP, and 4 kids slumbering peacefully well beyond the crack of dawn. Is there anything worse than waking sleeping children?

So, there we were… on the highway… in the dark… at 530am…with 4 kids. Now many of you have done this kind of thing before. You travel through the night so you miss the traffic (you’re crazy) or you wake up super early to get a head start (you’re also crazy). We don’t. We like to sleep. We pack the car in the morning when the sun is in the sky, NOT the moon. We like our “leisurely” cup of coffee.

So, why did we move mountains (intentional hyperbole) to get her there? We knew that this ceremony would be an invaluable experience for her. It would affirm her gifts as a writer, give her a chance to speak in front of others–a valuable skill, and most importantly, it would be an opportunity to celebrate with her and the other winners.
The things we do for love.

……………………………………….

She took her place at the podium, barely reaching the microphone. She self-consciously tucked her hair behind her ears and began to read. As I watched, I wondered what God was up to. Would this event be a significant marker in her life when she retells the story that God is writing for her one day? I didn’t cry; I wanted to, but I knew she’d be embarrassed. The things we do for love.

I smiled a lot and took lots of pictures, then smiled some more. Her teacher came and cheered her on. Good friends came to celebrate, too, and even brought us dinner so we didn’t have to stop on our manic 12-hour mission to get there on time.

As we sat at the picnic benches eating dinner with our friends before the ceremony, Abby emphatically stated that her mom did NOT help her with the poem. And she’s right. It was a project between her and her (wonderful) teacher. I was tempted to defend myself– all the years of reading Goodnight Moon and Three by the Sea at bedtime, countless hours of listening to books on CD, her learning to read on my lap while I taught Aidan to read. But instead, I remained silent. It’s her time.

And I can relate, because I’m a child myself. We never really know all that our parents have done for us.

So I just smiled and agreed.

The things we do for LOVE.

*Read Abby’s poem here.

Abby Poetry

onNeutralGround