Saturday, April 11, 2009

This Was The Day ...

This was the day I was going to clean the house, declare war on the kitchen floor and get the laundry done. I was going to write about HOPE which I've been thinking about a lot.

Today is the day we:

worked on Jenna's landform project.

Then everyone else wanted to paint. (Which resulted in Bath #1)

Taxi service began to a birthday party and friends' house.

They made mud sculptures. (which resulted in a very muddy sink)

We dyed Easter Eggs. (Which, of course, resulted in bath #2)

Yesterday was the day
I was:

~going to ponder the resurrection.
~ shopping for 2 quick things. (with all 5 kids)
~going to take a bike ride with the kids.
~going to our Good Friday Service.
~cleaning the(sweeping and mopping!) entry way.

Yesterday turned out being the day I:

~took 3 hours to shop for two things: shirt, shoes, 4 cookies, one Icee, one pop.
~listened to Maren scream more than she didn't.
~Cleaned the entry way and then 5 minutes later:

~took a bike ride but had to turn back due to Maren's crying.
~went to church and sat through 5 minutes of the service before I left...Maren's crying. Then Annie missed the toilet and peed on her dress (I thought only boys did that?!??!)

Tonight was the night
I was going to bed early.

Tonight is the night I am holding a sleeping girl in my arms.

Tomorrow is another day.

Psalm 118:24
This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What I Wish I Would Have Known....

I have a friend who is getting ready to sell her house so that her husband can go to seminary. They are uprooting their lives, successful contracting business and their beautiful new home as they pursue it. She asked me for some ideas or advice on being a Pastor's wife. Here is an abbreviated version of what I sent her.

What I Wish I Would Have Known 11 Years Ago . . .

I probably have 25-30 books on being a Pastor’s wives all of which I would be happy to send to you. I’m sure they are all written by wonderful women and have good things to say but somehow I have never gotten past the first few chapters of any of them. It might be pride. Yeah it’s definitely that. And over the years God has taught me a lot including a lot of lessons on humility. Those lessons haven’t come easily!

But since you asked, here is what I wish I would have known 11 years ago.

Stand By Your Man
I always thought this was old fashioned and demeaning but it’s a big part of what God wants me to do and I’ve found a lot of joy in being obedient to it. I’ve got to be Mike’s biggest supporter. Ministry is so hard. The things Mike deals with are emotionally and spiritually exhausting. He sits with people and their dead child at the hospital. He listens to people who are ready to give up and walk out on their marriage. He meets with people facing jail time and are forbidden to see their children. He holds the hand of a dying man. When I went with him and watched him hold our friend Jack’s hand in hospice I realized what a heavy load ministry is. And I’m the one God has asked to be there for him.

So, I support him by sitting in the front row at church to be close to his teaching and as you can imagine it causes quite a ruckus with 5 kids! (Plus he can easily hop down and sit with us when he has a chance!) I support him by respecting him as a man of God - it is a huge responsibility.

Defend him! I made a mistake on this when I have allowed others to complain about him in my presence, sometimes at my very own house! I felt awkward saying anything, but I have decided no more! I am going to say I’m sorry but that’s not cool. He’s our pastor and my husband. Most people have no idea the things he is having to deal with but you do.

One time several years ago when we were going through a difficult time with our church and people were attacking him, I stood up for him. Not only did I directly encourage him and show him what he was doing right. But I told others. I didn’t realize how much this meant to him until I heard him tell his mom about it on the phone.

There will be sacrifices, whether it is living away from family, not owning a home, not making a big income, moving. I used to feel bitter about it but now I realize that we are not called to live the way others do. We are called to a different life. We are not pursuing the same things anymore. And that’s a good thing. I’ve realized that there are a lot of people with empty lives and hearts. They look like they have it all but they have no purpose and peace. We definitely have a purpose and seeing the work of Christ in peoples lives makes it all worth it.

We have been with families during happy times of births, weddings and graduations. We have been with those same families through sickness, miscarriage, death, marital unfaithfulness. It’s absolutely worth it to be part of God’s work.

Shared Passion
Ministry can’t just be his job or something he’s doing. You both have to be willing to jump in and sell out. I just don’t think it works any other way. It’s not just a JOB. Although my role has changed a lot as we had more kids and the church grew in numbers and maturity and took on more responsibility. I still consider myself part of his team.

I had to take down the sound equipment last month. I didn’t know how and I was kind of irritated - ok I was super ticked off! But during that time, God was working in an amazing way at a men’s retreat - which is where all the men were and why there was no one there to take care of the sound equipment and chairs. I came home and just unloaded on Mike. Not my best moment! Was it too much for me to take care of a few chairs and speaker in order for God's work at the Men's Rally to go on? Of course not - silly question!

I’m a pretty likeable person I think. But much to my shock I realized that not everyone is going to like me and that’s ok. As long as I stand on the truth of God’s word and am kind and merciful to others everything else can be left in God’s hands. Be prepared not everyone will like you.

Spiritual Growth
You and your husband will not be responsible for growth in your church or ministry. NO matter how much you do (banquets, kids clubs, bible studies, outreaches) you will not be able to change hearts - only God can do that. The “successes” in our ministry are the result of God’s grace and nothing that I’ve done. And that’s not to say we should be lazy. We work hard but I’ve learned that he works despite my best efforts and through my failures.

Mike would not be happy or fulfilled doing anything else! Once they are called to ministry, there’s nothing else in the world for them. Why would we want them to run away from that? I don’t want to be the reason he leaves his calling. Sometimes it gets tough and I think our problems would be solved by ditching the ministry. If he ever leaves it is going to be because God worked in his heart - not because I was sick of it.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

My Time!

I was just getting ready to head out jogging yesterday. It's so hard to find time to squeeze it in and the weather was finally cooperating. As I was leaving, getting my iPod going and looking forward to some alone time Jenna asked if she could ride along with me on her bike. My immediate instinct was to say "Not on your life! This is My TIME!". Plus she had Girl Scouts in 45 minutes and still had to eat supper. But I said yes.

She gleefully chit chatted along the way. I was pretty out of breath so it worked out well that she didn't even give me a chance to talk. She went on and on about things from school and her friends. And instead of being annoyed I thought, who needs an iPod when you have your daughter along to keep you company. It was a great way to connect with her, especially since she is such an active kid.

As we were going, I remembered many times that my sister and I biked along with my Dad as he jogged. I don't know that it entailed any deep conversations but it was precious time together. He even pushed us up the hills.

And to think I almost selfishly said no. Time is going so fast that soon enough the kids will be too busy to want to come with me and then I'll be sad. Taking the time now to build my relationship will be the foundation in the future when there are bigger things to discuss than who is sitting where in the classroom.

(Moments like this won't last forever...)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Lessons I Want To Teach My Kids

If you were to ask me what I want to teach my kids, I might have a list like:

I want them to learn to tie their shoes, use the potty, read, be a good friend, be kind and loving, ride a bike, be independent.

I know I want them to give their lives to Jesus but a lot of times in the midst of life I just don't think of that. I just want them to do their own thing and stay out of my hair. I realized the other day that a "good day" for me is a day when the kids don't bug me and I can get my stuff done. That's not my goal as a mommy missionary!

Here are some things that my husband jotted down on a piece of scrap paper. I've had it saved in my "filing system" (papers that go in there are generally never seen again!) for a long time!

Lessons I Want to Teach my Kids
You are not the center of the universe. God is.

You are not as good as you think you are. We've all sinned against God.

You are made to be loved and to love.

You are forgiven and need to forgive. (Redemption and Reconciliation)

Work as to the Lord - Work Good; Work Hard.


Be Gracious, Merciful and Compassionate.

Live for Eternity.

Stick with the Body (meaning the Church).

You are blessed to bless others.

That puts my list to shame. And it's hard because as the mommy, I am bogged down in the details of life: laundry, grocery shopping, meal prep, cleaning up messes, diapers, appointments. It's good to step back and get a look at the big picture, which I always claim I could do if I spent most of my days in an office with no one under the age of 18 around me.

It's going to take some effort for me to stop focusing on the little stuff, step away from the computer and prayerfully look at my parenting. Many times I am shocked when I realize that although I'm a "Christian" parent I am parenting from a worldly perspective.

I just read a profound Caring Bridge update from a Dad whose son was paralyzed in a skiing accident a few weeks ago. Here's a bit of what he said:

Prov 22:6
Train a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not turn from it.

These words have always been an important admonition to Michele and I. We have worked hard over the years to see that our children were well trained and equipped for life. Looking back over our parenting thus far, I would say (probably like most parents) that we did well in some things and not as well at others. Every morning as Josh and I sit together waiting for the day to start, I have been struck with how little time I spent preparing my kids for suffering. It is a common human experience this side of eternity, but as a dad, I think I spent more time helping my kids avoid it than I did preparing them to trust God through it. .

You can read their story here.

Going forward I am going to saturate myself in the Word of God and prayerfully commit my parenting to Him, humbly admitting that on my own I'm a failure. And come what may, I pray we will live always following the Christ that lives in us - the Hope of Glory.

Colossians 1:27-29

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

The Longest Night

Birthdays are a big deal in this house! As Abby's birthday was approaching, her excitement was growing. She was talking about her party, what she wanted to get, what kind of party to have, who she was going to invite for weeks. It became too much for Jenna (who is highly competitive) and one night at supper she thanked God for the food and added,
"and please don't let Abby turn 7"!

On one hand it was pretty funny, but at the same time disturbing. I want our family to be happy and excited for each other when big things happen. And that's a tough one. Most adults do not know how to do that. Instead, we get jealous, bitter, and angry that it's not us.

I visited with Jenna and she understood that it wasn't right. She was just so tired of Abby talking about it all the time. Our selfish and prideful hearts just want all that attention and excitement to be about us!

Later that night after Abby went to bed, we started our traditional decorating. We put up streamers, balloons and signs. I make the ceremonial cinnamon rolls. I let Jenna, Grant and Annie stay up to help. Pretty soon Jenna got excited about making Abby's birthday special. She was taking charge of the sign and spreading decorations throughout the house and having so much fun that she forgot about her jealousy.

As I was tucking her into bed, she said, "I wonder what the longest night is: the night before Christmas, the night before your birthday or the night before vacation?" And I smiled because I knew she got it. She was happy for her sister!

Philippians 2:1-11
1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very natureF5 God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very natureF6 of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death--
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.


We live in the most amazing times and yet we tend to be an ungrateful generation. Here's a link to a clip that makes the point!

Once again I have been overwhelmed at the amount of trials people I know or know of are facing. A baby with heart problems, a teenager paralyzed from a ski accident, people facing the return of their cancer, and ministry crises.

I have heard several times about keeping a thankfulness journal. Actually at my ECFE parenting time we talked about it a few weeks ago from a secular perspective. The teacher talked about writing down 5 things you are thankful for every night even if it's just "I'm still breathing".

I have never felt the need to keep a journal on being thankful because of course I am thankful! I am a Christian and a Pastor's wife! But I find myself grumbling and complaining about a lot.

I've also read some thankfulness lists over the last few months written by people who are in very difficult circumstances. One of which lost a child this fall and another who's child was paralyzed in an skiing accident. It's amazing to read the things for which they are grateful even in the midst of anguish and pain.

If they can do it - so can I!

I'm thankful that:

~Jesus sacrificially saved me from my sins and will provide me with eternal life with Him!
~I have hope beyond this life.
~I have a wonderful husband and kids.
~we are all healthy.
~we have access to a doctor and medicine when we need it.
~I can walk.
~I am able to take care of my family.
~although I am a little heavier than I would like, it reminds me that I have plenty to eat.
~we have clean water.
~we have a warm dry house that can also be cool in the summer.
~we all have our own beds.
~we have two vehicles.
~we have a great extended family.
~we have a ton of super friends.

I'm sure I cannot commit to making this a nightly practice, but it's a discipline worth pursuing occasionally just to keep me grounded and away from sulking, self-pity and greed. As we battle the materialism of our culture, this is a practice I need. Thankfulness directs my thoughts and hearts toward Christ - which is right where they should be.

Psalm 105:1
Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.

Psalm 107:1
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.


Well, the sun is finally shining but the temperature does not say spring yet! It's been a really long winter! I finally took myself to the doctor today and found out I have a sinus infection. Could that be the cause of the headache I've had for the last 6 weeks!? Why do Mommies do that?

It's that time of the year again and there are pastel colors, jelly beans and swimsuits in the stores. I know I wrote about this last year, but it's the problem that never dies! I have been taking the kids swimming every Sunday this year for "Family Swim". It's really a fun way to spend the afternoon especially as winter drags on.

It's really not normal or natural for me to fixate on how I look. Lately, there have been some challenges though. For instance, no time or energy to exercise, lack of time and funds to spend on myself. And then there are people who ask you if you are pregnant when you are not! That happens to me a lot - ok, I realize I still have a baby belly! And I know that some people probably assume that we are just going to have an endless stream of children given our track record.

I was tempted to let all those things keep me out of the pool. Anyway, we went swimming as planned and of course it was fun. I raced Jenna, helped Annie almost jump off the diving board and watched Abby jump in the deep end. When we were getting changed in the locker room, I ran into another Mom I know who told me she wished she was a brave as me to get in the water.

I realized that I don't want to let my worries about my outward appearance keep me from being willing to get in the pool and have fun with my kids. And it's not just with swimsuits, but it's easy to disengage from life when we aren't happy with ourselves.

Come on, we have to get over this! We are more than just a dress size. We are daughters of the King, saved by grace, appointed by God to share his love. I think Satan would be pleased to keep us out of the game based on our self-esteem issues.

I'm not condoning drowning ourselves in ice cream every night (although sometimes that helps me) or never exercising. But who we are on the inside is so much more important than how we look in a swimsuit. Being with our kids and having fun is too great to miss because we aren't happy with ourselves.

I'm not going to let it keep me out of the water!