Is it Taking Over?

We were notified on Sunday that another lady has passed away from our church. Though she’s in heaven and no longer suffering, her loss is felt. This makes 22 members of our church who have died since we came to serve at this church 2 1/2 years ago. It would be an understatement to say this is really taking a toll on the church as a whole and David as well. How do you deal with so much death? It doesn’t matter that most of those who have passed have been elderly, their loss is just as hard and important. In 2 1/2 years we have lost 1/3 of our congregation just to death. It’s a hard reality to swallow. It doesn’t make sense, and I have been struggling with how to wrap my brain around all of this. My initial response is to feel the sadness for my husband as he has to prepare another memorial/funeral service. He has to minister to the family and help them through this time of need and uncertainty. I am then struck with the sadness the family and church family are feeling. They knew these people far better than we ever did. If our sorrow is great I can’t imagine what theirs is like.

It would seem death is taking over. It would seem God is working unjustly here. How much death can one group of people take? I sure hope no more for a long time!!! There is a sense of depression, sadness, and dread over the church, and I would say rightfully so. It seems death is taking us by storm and not leaving many alive in its wake. Why so much death? Why these people? Why this group? I don’t know. I don’t have answers. I don’t understand.

What I do know is we hate it when the phone rings anymore and see a church member’s number listed. David doesn’t want to answer for fear another of the flock has passed on. What I also know is God is in control. Though we don’t understand what’s going on right now, He’s still God, He’s still in control and He’s still good. I suppose we’re not meant to understand at this time. We just need to trust him–and yes, so much easier said then done!

If you think about it, pray for our church. Pray for the MANY grieving families we have in our midst. We have many widows right now, many families missing moms, dads, sisters, brothers. And for the others, their friends. Pray for David as he ministers to the congregation that is left and does his best to help them through this time. And, pray that God will be glorified and that through our non-understanding we’ll remember that God is still God, God is still in control, and God is still good.

 

Have You?

As a pastor’s wife I see the good, the bad and the ugly that goes on in a church. I hear the painful stories of those who are hurting, things no one else hears. I see the good deeds and silent servants no one else sees, and I see and hear the ridiculousness that happens in a church that most people don’t know about. I see the joys and struggles that my husband, the pastor, goes through and often I’m left wondering, what is my role in all of this? How do I see and hear all of these things that most others don’t, and what do I do with it all? I pray. I pray for those who are hurting, I pray for those who are causing issues, and I thank the Lord for those who are going about doing good things for the Kingdom. And, I pray for my husband, my pastor. He needs prayer to get through the hard things, to make the hard decisions, to prepare his sermons every week. He just needs prayer. Have you prayed for your pastor today? If not, let me encourage you to make this a daily or weekly practice. Your pastor has been placed in a hard position, one that gives him a lot of joy and heartache. One he loves and one that is difficult. Pray for him/her. Pray for the Holy Spirit to encourage and strengthen the hands of the man or woman who is leading your church. He needs prayer and would love to hear that you ARE praying! Have you prayed for your pastor today?

Party #3

Our 3rd party took place Saturday evening. We had a ladies’ banquet at church, and my mom (and dad), sister and nieces (and BIL and nephew) joined Cora and me for the dinner and talk afterward! We had a great time! The women got to sit, relax and enjoy a yummy dinner while the men served the coffee, dinner and dessert–the dinner was catered by our friend and fellow-minister, Bruce! We then heard a very encouraging talk from my friend, Nan, and then we all went home. It was so nice. Such a great time of fellowship and just enjoying being together as women. Since my whole family was here we took advantage and took lots of photos! 🙂

The centerpieces–I had found this idea on Pintrest and changed it up just a bit. I used ribbon instead of rafia!

Ben and my nephew didn’t like the idea of not being with the ladies, so they got to sit with us for a lot of the banquet!

Hi Haddie!

 

PKs

I grew up knowing I was a “MK”–a missionary kid. My parents were missionaries in Africa (at the time the country we were in was called Zaire, it’s now the Democratic Republic of Congo). I lived there from the time I was 4 until I was 13. I loved being a MK. On furlough, or when Mom and Dad would be on “deputation” (nowadays this is called “fund raising”), it was obvious some people had a different standard for MKs. One woman even commented to my mom once (after my sister, or I, received a spanking), “I can’t believe you have to spank your children! They ARE missionary children after all!” My mom promptly responded that yes, we are, but we’re not perfect! My parents didn’t treat us differently because we were missionaries. I truly believe that if I had lived my life here in the USA, never leaving the house I was born in, I would have been raised with the exact same values, morals and dedication to the things of the Lord as we were overseas. I am blessed to have parents who wanted to raise my sister and I with a desire to serve the Lord, not because we were MKs, but because that’s the right path in life.

My children are “PKs”–pastor’s kids. And, I have noticed that it seems some expect that they would be/act differently because of that. I hope I have the presence of mind to one day tell people that my kids aren’t perfect, PKs or not! It has been resting on my heart a lot lately this idea of my children growing up as PKs. When David and I were first married, and before we had children, we talked a lot about when/if we did have children we would want to raise them to love the Lord with everything they have–not because they’re PKs, but rather because it’s the way we should be living. As our children are getting older, especially Cora, we are finding just how important it is to grow up our kids in the ways of the Lord. Cora has a very tender heart. As she asserts her will and disobeys and tries to find her way I am deeply burdened with how best to guide, discipline and steer her in such a way so as to keep her heart tender. I don’t want to EVER tell her she must do this or that because her daddy is a pastor. David and I have said MANY times we don’t ever want to say this to our kids.

Why? Well, our kids did not choose this life. Our kids did not choose for their daddy to be a pastor, to minister, to be in a pulpit every Sunday. Our children didn’t ask to have their lives on display, or to have to share their daddy with a lot of other people. None of these things are bad, it’s part of the job, however, our children still didn’t choose this life. We, the parents did. We feel very strongly this is the life the Lord has for us and our children, but the thing I struggle with is this: how do I (we) raise our children to love the Lord and want to serve him while teaching that we desire this NOT because Daddy is a pastor, but rather because this is simply what we desire for them? I have a huge burden on my heart for my children. I don’t want the difficulties of being a pastor’s family scar them, or turn them away, from the Lord. I want to be sure that when hard times come I don’t react in bitterness and anger, but rather with love and forgiveness. I want my children to see that though they didn’t choose this life, it’s a good life and a life worth living. I want them to see the positives of being PKs: being able to share the gospel with others, having special relationships with people of all ages and being involved in their lives like very few are able to do.

As David and I were talking about this the other night we were reminded how we need to go about this parenting thing constantly asking ourselves, “Are we doing this because we’re the pastor’s family, or because we’re a family who lives for the Lord?” I think it’s a valuable question and something we will need to ask ourselves many times. My prayer for my children is that they grow up to love the Lord, desire to serve him and want to raise their children to do the same. Not because they’re daddy is a pastor, but because their parents valued living this way.

Passion

Being a pastor’s wife allows you to see a lot of what goes on in a church, more than the average attender sees. This can be good and bad. I was thinking the other day how silly we, as Christians, can be. We get so upset and passionate over things that, in all reality, don’t matter. What if we put 1/2 that passion into the mission of the Church? Think of all we could accomplish!

Redemption–Part 3

Moving on in my thoughts on redemption…I have two more areas of my life the Lord has redeemed recently. They both kinda happened at the same time so I’ll just pick our experience at our previous church, and we’ll talk about Cora’s birth story later.

We were called to the church (I’ll not use the name to protect the not-so-innocent) and moved there and started working 2 weeks after we were married. Looking back, we can see all of the red flags very clearly and even as we were there they started flying furiously for us. Strange things happened right from the start. As we were unloading the moving truck (with the help of my parents and the church people) David saw “M” (who would very soon become one of our greatest opposers) talking to the interim pastor “privately” in a corner. David remembers thinking this was strange, but didn’t think too much about it and kept unloading. We learned later that M was telling the interim pastor that he should really stay and how can they get David and Jeni to leave? Yes, that’s right, on the day we were moving in, we had not yet even had the chance to make people mad, they were trying to get us out. Trouble was being started, the pot was being stirred.

Six months after being at the church things really started to unravel. I won’t tell any of the stories, because it’s not necessary. And, to be honest I don’t really want to rehash it all, it just brings about unnecessary pain. In any case, even though we knew pretty quickly after arriving, we definitely knew six months in that we were heading down a very rough and bumpy road. Things went from ok, to bad, to worse, to pretty much unbearable. David lost his gall bladder due to all the stress. Every decision, every direction, was met with opposition. Now, let me clarify. This was not opposition from the entire church. Nope. Would you believe it was done by 4 people, mostly 2 men, one of whom was told what to do by his wife? That’s right, the screaming minority was ruling the silent majority. We went through so much pain, anguish, uncertainty, PRAYER, tears, questioning. We knew we were not there to grow the church in numbers. We knew we were not there to create a fantastic children’s ministry. We were there to name the elephant in the room. We were there to open the eyes of this body to the cancer that was eating this church alive.

David had the backing of the deacon board. They all knew what needed to be done, but when push came to shove it was too painful to the body to rid itself of the cancer. So, with that we knew God had released us. We knew we had done what God had sent us to do. We knew we could leave with God’s blessing and knew we had done the best we could. (I am saying “we” because David and I went through this very much together. He was the pastor and dealt the the brunt of it, but do not be mistaken, the opposers tried to get as much of their venom in me as possible, too.)

Fast forward to present day. After two years of job-searching God brought us to where we are now. WOW! How do I describe the place God has brought us other than the complete opposite of where we were? We were in the country, we’re now in an urban setting. We have been received with such grace, love and peace, I can’t even really describe it. Again, I want to say that in our previous church most of the people there were wonderful, dear people. However, the overall spirit of the church was wrought with everything opposite of where we are now. We have been loved, we have been accepted. I have not been myself most of the time we’ve been here due to being pregnant. This congregation has not even acted offended. Many helped me and others asked how to help.

God has redeemed a terrible situation. He has brought back peace and love and faith into a ministry that we were becoming just plain disgusted. He has allowed us to have a season of peace and rest–not only in ministry but also in our home and marriage. Does this mean life is perfect? Does this mean the church we’re in now doesn’t have it’s issues? Does this mean we never disagree or have moments of unrest in our marriage/family? Heavens no! But, the overall feeling in our life right now is one of peace. God is healing us. God is making better a situation that could have destroyed us in so many ways. God is showing us his mercies ARE new every morning.

I’m so thankful God has redeemed this part of my/our lives. We both feel so called to ministry and know God wants us to be a pastor and pastor’s wife. I’m thankful God has brought us to a place that is willing to let us both use our gifts and strengths for the benefit of the church. Again I want to say, praise God, from Whom ALL blessings flow.

The Strangest Interview EVER

My husband was without work for 2 years. It was a long 2 years full of downs and some ups. It was a 2-year testing of our faith with a lot of questioning. Because my husband is a pastor he went to a lot of interviews with churches–for anything from youth pastor jobs to senior pastor jobs. He also did countless interviews with secular jobs from Stanley Steemer (which we found out is 100% commission, who knew???) to working for phone companies. At the end of his job search process he was called to go to 2 interviews. One was for a youth pastor job in the town he had grown up in and the other was for the job he has now. The interviews were on the same weekend and we knew it was going to be nuts, but were also so excited about the possibilities!

He goes to the first interview on Friday night at the church in his hometown. (To protect the “innocent” I won’t tell you what church or denomination it was, because let’s face it, we hope this interview is not typical!) He arrives to the interview and sits down with the search committee–did I mention this is for a youth pastor position? He introduces himself and no one else introduces themselves. WHAT???? Straaaaaaaannnnnnnnge!!! He has no idea who the members of the committee are, their positions in the church, let alone their names! He is asked a list of questions, none of which has ANYTHING to do with his spiritual life, his stance on theology, or even if he IS a Christian. They were very surface questions. He asked them a few theological questions, but could tell they thought this odd. There was a youth member on the committee and her burning question was to know my husband’s view of people having tattoos. Really??? This is what you’re most concerned with? It was a really short interview, needless to say! He drives the 30 minute drive back to his dad’s house and we wait.

I was on the computer and noticed that about 5 minutes (NOT kidding!) after David gets home we get a new email. It was from the church he had just had the interview with and they were offering him the job. WHAT???? Never mind this was the first encounter he’d had with the church–typically you meet with a church 2-3 times before a decision is made. He didn’t get any opportunity to talk to the head pastor (whom he’d be working closely with), nor did he know where the church stood on different issues, what they were even looking for in a youth minister. The church had not even bothered to check his references!!!!! WHAT???? So much head-scratching ensued on our part! There are so many red flags here it’s hard to list them all. The least of which being why on earth a church wouldn’t check the references of a person about to be with the youth–not a good idea!

We tried hard not to panic. David would be getting paid hardly anything, with no benefits, which meant I would certainly HAVE to work outside the home. We had so many misgivings about this. Thankfully, I have a wise husband and he kindly replied to the pastor that we would have to talk and pray and we would let him know the following week. We went to bed almost begging the Lord that after 2 years of no job this was NOT the one, but also knowing we had to trust.

Thankfully, the interview the next day went MUCH better, no red flags and a HUGE green light from the Lord telling us this was the direction he had for us. But, the interview the evening prior will always be one that makes us chuckle…

What strange interviews have you had?