Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Odd things that are ministry normal...

Let's face it; sometimes living in the ministry exposes you to situations that would be considered odd anywhere else, and yet, they're just a normal part of this life. I thought it would be fun to call out our odd normalities...
This week's odd normal happened at Walmart. I was doing my weekly shopping for groceries, household supplies and miscellaneous junk when my husband called asking if I would like to join him for a quick lunch. Between finishing up a massive building project, beginning a renovation of the former space, all the celebratory holidays/moments in May and a late Easter, moments together are a rare commodity, so I told him I would finish up quickly and meet him. That's when it happened...I spotted a sweet older lady in the church...not one of the frustrating of the dear saints of the church, supportive, precious, deserving of a full conversation. But, sigh, I just wanted to shop quickly and make it to lunch. After successfully bobbing and weaving around her, the unthinkable happened...another woman I didn't know from Adam looks up, a huge smile of recognition spreading across her face...

"Hey there, I LOVED what you had to say in the Mother's Day sermon yesterday! I love New Hope. We moved here from Georgia six months ago. I've really felt that...blah, blah, blah..."

Insert my smiling face hiding the internal dialogue that goes something like this... "Crud, who is she? Should I know her? Did she come to Newcomer's night, cause I got nothing... I'm trying to get shopping done. Shoot, she's lonely and is so happy to talk...guilt, guilt, guilt. But I really need to wrap this up. How do I let her know she's important and valued, but I need to keep moving?"

I seriously doubt this happens in most people's lives. At least not getting trapped by complete strangers who know every detail of your many kids you have, their names, ages, interests, etc... I love this life, but you gotta admit, sometimes it's a weird one.

Next aisle over, guess who I bump into? I resigned myself to another long conversation when she smiles, warmly greets me then says, "I'll see you later, dear. I really need to finish my shopping." Have I mentioned how much I love this precious saint of our church?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

When positivity is a bad thing

I would venture that all of us have experienced the fallout of dealing with negativity...someone in your church just doesn't like you and doesn't feel the need to hide that fact. Maybe they don't like what you're doing; maybe you remind them of someone they couldn't trust...someone who hurt them deeply at some point in their life. Sometimes, I really think it can be as simple as a personality mismatch. Whatever the reason, we probably all have stories of someone who seemed to step on every nerve we have. However, sometimes I think the overly positive people in our churches can be an even greater hurdle for us.

Whoa; hold up a bit. Hear me out before you scroll on to the next thing.

 I'm not talking about those God sent battle ready mature Christians we would make parishioner of the week every week if we could. This is a whole different situation... This is that woman who catches you at the door and says, "pastor, we came from x church or x community. They were so cold and just didn't care about people at all. We LOVE it here! The people are so friendly and your sermons are the best I've ever heard in my whole life. The worship should be on the radio it's so good! Where we came from people didn't even notice when we were gone/had surgery/moved. The worship just wasn't real; they were all fake and the preaching didn't feed me..." Cue the music for when you're x church they're talking about at their new church.

Or the new staff member who gushes about how it's the best job they've ever, ever had and sometimes even gives expensive thank you gifts in the first six months they're on staff. These things are extremely flattering to hear and stroke the ego well, but I've learned to groan inwardly when someone gets overly expressive about how amazing the church/their job/I am within the first weeks/months of joining us. I can't remember even one positive staff experience that started this way.

Why is this? I haven't a clue...maybe those who wait to settle in before thoroughly attaching base their attachments less on emotion and more on reality? Maybe those who understand real loyalty and commitment are more careful about where they give it because they know the true, long term cost and are willing to go there? It's just an observation I've made. Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Writing has always been therapeutic for me and I've not pursued this outlet for far too long. I'm finding it easier to sort through my thoughts, feelings and issues this way, and the beauty of letting this blog sit idle for so long is that it's a semi private venue :).

I had a kind of revelation this I can't believe it took nineteen years to have...well, yeah, I guess I can. I'm generally pretty quick to pick up on things, but when I miss them, boy howdy, do I! Working with the worship team in church when you're a Pastor's wife is tricky business at best. People feel very strongly where the arts are concerned, so it tends to be a lightning rod sort of place. Add to the mix that I don't like conflict and am pretty thin skinned where criticism is concerned and, well, sometimes it's just not pretty. Of course, it's usually fine in public, but at home I have times when I struggle in huge ways. The past two and half years I've faced some strong struggles and frankly have battled bouts of depression. I'm a verbal processor, which is just great when you're married to an introvert who spends all his words at his highly public/people oriented job. I've had several melt downs and times I've needed to process what is happening in worship arts...times of frustration with leadership (creatives are horrible at communication, which kills someone like me); I'm always questioning my abilities, questioning my value to the team, etc. It never goes well trying to process these things with Michael and I've always struggled with why that is, when I think it finally hit me this morning. He's a team player...that man is loyal to the death. If you're wrong, he doesn't shy away from confronting that within the team, but if you're part of his team, he's a pastoral marine..."never leave a man behind." He will bleed for you, take the hit for you, take the blame for your failures (both publicly and personally) and on and on. When I air my struggles and bring even legitimate wrongs to light about a team member, in a sense I become the enemy. He is always the pastor in those conversations and can't make the shift to husband, which explains why those conversations always have an odd timbre to them. I'm not entirely sure what to do with this newly discovered information, but oddly, it does bring a sense of relief and understanding...probably also a sense of responsibility to find someone safe for sorting through these things, though that's a tricky business in a parsonage...and will probably mean a Pastor's wife who doesn't live here :). Living in the fishbowl is sometimes really fun and easy, and then there are these moments...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Being okay with less than

This is where you're thinking, "Here comes the 'I know how to live in plenty and live in want....I've learned contentment wherever I am' speech." Actually, it isn't...or maybe it is, just not in the way you think. This does actually relate to our move to North Dakota, hang with me for a bit...

When we moved from rural Southwestern Kansas to suburban Michigan a very long time ago it was exciting. And while Grand Rapids, Michigan doesn't show up in movies or top 10 up and coming places to live, we had shopping and lighthouses and coastline (of sorts) close by. We were moving up in the world. Our church was edgy and artsy and we were the "cool" people.

Our move to Sacramento, CA was dramatic, to say the least. We were leaving a church of a 1,000+ people for a new plant of 100+. It was hard to leave friends behind. It was hard to leave a salary behind. It was hard to leave an exciting, fully staffed church behind. was California. We rolled our eyes with people and talked about moving to the land of fruits and nuts. Funny thing though, even the people who swore up and down they were glad it was us and not them had an interesting undertone. Reality was, we were moving from nine months of winter and snow falls they measured in feet, not inches, to never seeing snow (unless we chose to drive an hour up to Donner summit to play in tons of snow for the afternoon before driving back to the valley where we would swap snow boots for cute shoes and flip flops once again). We would be an hour from the ocean and an iconic American city. School field trips would often involve crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. Our local news morning show was famous with one of the anchors regularly interviewing big, big stars just because he could and they liked him. Our son was on a t-ball team with the son of a famous rock drummer who was once married to Mia Tyler (as in Steve Tyler's daughter and Liv Tyler's half sister).  Famous basketball players (such as Mike Bibby and Chris Webber) shopped at my local grocery store and stood in line next me relatively often. I don't care who you are or how much you gripe about California, you can't help but be at least a little impressed by such realities. It was stretching, yes, but
 it was also cool.

And then we moved to North Dakota... And, well, North Dakota isn't sexy. Corporations don't want to put stores here, even though we have people now. And the stores we do have,well, we will shop there no matter what and they know that, so they're plain and very simple. The interesting thing is that, in reality, our sons have way more viable and affordable options for pursuing music and really positive school clubs and groups. We have so many people to reach and have to come up with new and innovative ways of doing everything since books aren't written for the phenomenon we have to keep up with here. Frankly, what's happening here....the people, the innovation, the opportunities, the amazing. If it were happening somewhere people are interested in, it would go even more viral than it already has. Thing is, North Dakota simply isn't sexy.

Therein lies the interesting thing I learn about myself. I'm blessed beyond measure. My children are flourishing (once Ian got adjusted to school). We're where we are supposed to be. God is reaching
people and we get to be involved in the process. And yet, it's not cool. When you tell people you live
in North Dakota you are suddenly uninteresting. And I find I've cared a little too much about what people think. I've cared too much about being comfortable. I've cared more about whether a ministry or outreach we do is"cutting edge/missional" and not enough about whether it's what is needed and will meet real needs. I know that missional is supposed to be about actually meeting real community needs and leaving our four walls, but sometimes I think it's become more about looking like we're leaving the walls and meeting real needs. And often it's just a big talk excuse for not doing anything, because what is being done isn't happening the way we'd like. Now I'm meddling...but maybe it isn't quite so harsh when you realize I'm talking to myself.

... No, North Dakota isn't sexy. No one will ask to be my Facebook friend simply because I live in North Dakota and they've always wanted to know someone who lives there. People don't come visit us, and certainly not during winter, which is most of the year, but that's okay. God's working on me. I'm learning yet more about my own insecurities and slowly learning about letting me define my surroundings rather than the other way around. Aside from the growth that thankfully comes with
age, I am still the same person, whether my address reads Kansas, Michigan, California or North Dakota.

"Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned to be content with whatever I have." Philippians 4:11 NLT

Friday, November 1, 2013

Trail of tears

The past five years have been interesting ones, though if I had my choice, I probably would have gone a different direction in keeping it fresh. We spent the last two to three years in Sacramento really going through a grief cycle as we watched the place of life and deep friendships struggle and slowly sink to a place where paying us for full time work no longer made sense. We experienced anger, grief, denial and hopes that things would get better and eventually realized the cold, hard truth that while we had envisioned retiring in Sacramento, we needed to leave our dream home, friendships and once ideal life behind. The bad news? A terrible economy meant short selling our beloved home (it felt like paying someone to take our memories and a place that had felt like a true home for eight years). It meant leaving family behind. It meant leaving friends and history....people who really knew us...behind. The good news? We were able to short sell our house. We received 10 job offers at a time when churches were letting people go left and right and jobs simply weren't available. The place we agreed to pastor had enough money sitting in the bank that they self-financed a home for us, so we could still own our home. Ironically, while it's not our "dream home" and certainly not new, this home has more space than we've ever had and fits our stage of life with the boys much better than the old one did. The church is growing, we're more than doubling the size of our facilities and the boys are thriving in school here. Both boys have several friends and many musical opportunities we didn't have the resources to make happen in Sacramento. I'm glad there's good news, because a move like that makes you feel like someone ripped your heart out...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

She's alive!

Yes, yes, I live...three plus years following the last post. A lot has happened in the past three years. A lot of God caring for us, a lot of things that should have gone horribly wrong, but didn't, a lot of dreams gone and heartache...

I stared this blog for Pastor's wives but this weekend I've come to wonder if it should be a place of openness and healing for me. Writing helps me straighten out my thoughts and gain clarity. It's also a good way for me to bring closure to feelings I have. It's late...too late for the hectic days that are the life of a senior Pastor's wife and a high schooler's mother. My days are spent either running someone to a practice or getting ready for/entertaining a group in my home, so I will join the snoring man next to me in trying to gain rest for another long day, but maybe I'll sort through the paradox that has been life in recent years a snippet at a time through precious minutes stolen here and there...

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I realize I'm not very good at keeping up here. Honestly, it's been a rough year and I don't have much energy left over after I do what I need to do these days. Have you ever seen a cat swim? There's a reason cats don't like water. When they swim, they look half drowned, barely visible above the water, fighting to make it to shore. That's what I feel like...

The good side of things is that I'm doing my best to learn how to help other people right now. Many of my friends are in a similar boat. It's not hard to miss that struggling, drowning vibe when you're paying attention. This morning I had another really hard pill to swallow, but it brought an epiphany. I'm fairly discerning. I sense things easily and usually know when something is going on whether I'm "in the know" or not. However, much of the time, I keep my mouth shut believing that if the person hasn't told me what they're going through, they don't want me to know. I pray quietly and look for an opportunity to probe further. I'm beginning to realize maybe they want me to ask. Granted, there's a way, place and time, but nothing says love like having someone close to you send a quick message asking, "Are you okay? I sense something's up and just wanted you to know I care." In future days, I'm going to be more bold. I'm going to ask the questions.

Sadly, most pastors/leaders invest in people because they like them (or sometimes not) and need them. I long to invest in people because I love them, whether they help me out or not. When you pour into people because you love them, I believe you're going to care more about what they're struggling with whether it impacts your personal ministry/world or not. It stands to reason unconditional love like that will eventually impact your personal world in huge ways. Caring for people most when it's convenient for you or when that person can affect your own personal ministry/agenda will eventually take it's toll.