HOPE for the Shepherds

Sunday began the Advent season. I love Advent. I grew up knowing a little about Advent, but it wasn’t until I was older, probably in college, that I began attending a church that really made a deal about Advent and a point to add it to the worship of Christmas. I love it. I love how it brings attention to different parts of the Christmas story.  I love how it causes us to think of the coming of Christ differently, in ways we may not always think. Being a pastor’s wife I get to be behind the scenes of Advent planning. This is our 7th Advent of our married life, all but 2 of those years my husband was a pastor. I continue to be amazed at how David brings new light to a story most of us have heard a bazillion times! This year he’s taking the themes of Advent–hope, peace, joy, love, Christ–and applying them to parts of the story that aren’t usually associated. For example, this week was hope and my husband used the shepherds with hope. Typically, joy is done with the shepherds. I quite enjoyed the sermon Sunday.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2: 8-14 ESV

Shepherds were the lowest of the low, the down-trodden, the outcasts of society. No one wanted to be a shepherd. It was a job you took because there was no other option. It was a job simply to survive, and shepherds barely survived. They were a hopeless bunch of men. They had no hope of climbing the social ladder, of bettering themselves, of furthering their education, or probably even living long lives. Not much hope, but who does God use to share the greatest Hope??? The shepherds! They are given the most brilliant of Christmas concerts and told to go into town, see the Christ child and then go share the hope He brings with everyone else. What an amazing job! And, to think, they just thought they were going to have another hum-drum night of guarding their sheep. As is typical, God does the unthinkable, uses the undesirable to do amazing things. I’m so glad we have a God who offers HOPE to the hopeless and doesn’t let us live lives without it. His hope sustains, his hope is all we need.

I pray you are able to find the HOPE that is offered this Christmas season through our Lord Jesus!

Vacation: Days 4-7

On day 4 of our vacation we left to go about 1 hour south to stay at a hotel for a couple nights. We went to this particular hotel for 2 reasons: they give a 25% discount to pastors, and they had a small water “park” at the hotel. It was perfect for our kids (and kids through grade school). It was so much fun to watch our kids play in the water and go down the water slide time after time, after time, after time…They got good and tired out, and we had a few meltdowns due to the exhaustion, but they did so much better than I expected. We also were told about a small children’s museum about 20 minutes away from the hotel so we went to check it out–it was a lot of fun!!!!! I would say it was more of a discovery zone, but whatever, it was FUN and totally created for children. We ended our time visiting some good friends of ours, two different couples. They both used to live and serve in the community that we live but have since been called to a new church to serve together. It was fantastic to see them, let our kids play together, let the kids play with their “grandparents” and do nothing on Sunday at church but sit, sing, worship and listen to the preaching. And, I also loved sitting next to my husband for the morning! We had a great vacation, didn’t get any rest, but it was so nice to be away from home and just have a change of scenery. Oh, and please forgive the graininess of the photos. For some reason I totally forgot to take my camera to the museum and didn’t want to have it in the pool area…

Me and Bekah sitting, observing the fun going on in the pool!

Me and Bekah sitting, observing the fun going on in the pool!

Ben LOVES water and has NO fear...

Ben LOVES water and has NO fear…

Cora is also a little fish in the water!

Cora is also a little fish in the water!

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Digging for dinosaurs at the museum

Digging for dinosaurs at the museum

Gearing up for the "mine"

Gearing up for the “mine”

Daddy and Bekah

Daddy and Bekah

Cora doing hair working in the salon

Cora doing hair working in the salon

Fun at the water table

Fun at the water table

Bekah, sleeping...again...

Bekah, sleeping…again…

Taking a ride in an airplane

Taking a ride in an airplane

Having fun watching Thomas the Train go around

Having fun watching Thomas the Train go around

All geared up to take off and fly the friendly skies!

All geared up to take off and fly the friendly skies!

I think you're too young to drive, Buddy!

I think you’re too young to drive, Buddy!

Cora and Ben with their friends, B and K!

Cora and Ben with their friends, B and K!

Head Spinning

I have felt for a few weeks now like my head is spinning. We tend to be a family who tries not to have every single day and every hour of that day planned. We’re OK with days of nothing to do. I think we do this partly because we’re a pastor’s family. You never know when something might unexpectedly come up. However, since the start of preschool life seems to have taken a crazy spin. I feel I’m having a hard time adjusting to the fact that 3 days of the week our mornings can’t be “lazy.” I have to get Cora ready for school and in the process I just get the other 2 ready and myself. I’m not sure why, but I feel kinda lost with only having 2 kids M-W of each week. Funny how quickly you adjust to having more!

Then with our family currently seeing the chiropractor 2x a week that just adds a whole other level of insanity! And, yes, we’re going 2x a week for right now. Why? Because we need to get our bones and muscles to a point of working together in the correct way. This should take 4-6 wks and then we can back off to going about 2x a month. (and, we’re seeing great results in the kids and ourselves!!!)

My sister and her family have been “homeless” for several weeks now, living with my parents. They returned from vacation at the beginning of the month to find black mold had virtually exploded in their home. They have since discovered it’s covering the basement (floor to ceiling), the furnace, all the duct work, etc. Thankfully, it did not spread to their 3rd level where a lot of the kids’ stuff was. However, there are a lot of items they do have to replace, well, most of their stuff, especially furniture. This has created a lot of stress for their family and concern for the rest of us! Thankfully, the Lord has provided them with a new home, and they’ll begin moving this weekend.

Sunday evening my grandma was out walking in the evening, fell and broke her femur right under the ball socket of her hip and cracked her 10th rib. She had surgery on Tuesday of this week and will be looking at some rehab. I feel so bad for her that this happened! However, I AM thankful my grandma is a healthy woman, who has always taken care of herself. Because of this, we’re hoping her rehab goes well and maybe faster than it might otherwise do.

I find myself asking the question, “when will life get normal again?” and then, I’m reminded life is never normal. Or maybe the craziness and surprises are just what normal is these days. Whatever the case, I know the Lord is in control. I’ve found myself praying a lot for strength and grace and being thankful for the wonderful ways the Lord does bless us, despite the craziness!

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?

Prayers of a Wife

One Sunday, not too long ago, it seemed nothing was going right for my husband. We left the house in a tizzy, as soon as he got to church complaints were thrown at him and I knew it was going to be a rough morning. I tried to keep the kids (especially Cora, who like to follow her Daddy around at church) with me and we went to the nursery early. It just seemed my husband was being attacked from all sides, nothing horrible, just little annoyances, things that were certainly manageable, but certainly able to derail his mindset of worship. And so, I prayed. I prayed for him all the way to church, before the service started, as it was starting and then during. I was reminded of the importance of praying for my husband. Not just because he’s a pastor, but because I need to pray for him. I need to lift him up to the Lord on a daily basis and ask the Lord to give him strength. But, also because he IS a pastor and who better to know what’s going on behind the scenes then me, his wife? I have the privilege of knowing what’s happening so I can pray specifically, not just generally. I must remember to keep my husband in prayer every day, not just on Sundays when he’s about to give the word God has given him.

As we left church David said, “God must have really been wanting to work today because I sure felt attacked by Satan all morning long.” I silently prayed for whomever it was that God had spoken to that day and was thankful that David didn’t allow the little hiccups to derail him enough to not get the Word out that the Lord had placed on his heart.

Ladies, don’t forget to pray for your husband, regardless of his profession. You know him better than anyone (yes, even his mother!) and you know best the struggles he faces daily. Who better to lift him up to the Lord than you, his wife?

Retirement

Note: If you are retired, this post will probably ruffle your feathers. And, if it DOES ruffle your feathers I’m OK with that! This is something I feel very strongly about, and I think is important to think about, especially if you’re a Christian!

Retirement. Such a strange thing. You know, it wasn’t until my grandparents’ generation that retirement was even a concept in our society. No one retired, everyone worked until they died, or were not longer able. There was too much to do to survive to retire. But, in the 1900s things started to change. Life got easier with the inventions of appliances for our homes and other such machines. We became more of an urban society and didn’t have to rely on our own farm or garden to provide food for our families. And so, why not, at the age of 60, 65, 70 stop working, stop collecting a paycheck and go south for the winter? Or, why not stop working and just stop doing anything unless it was interesting to you that day? Retirement is something David and I have talked about a lot, but not in the way the world views retirement. No, we talk about what we’ll be doing when we reach the age the world tells us to retire. And, we talk a lot about how even the idea of retirement is not mentioned in Scripture, is not a Biblical idea, and is not something Jesus even eluded to. Interesting.

So, what will we do when we reach the age of retirement? Keep working. Will we still be a pastor’s family? Not sure. Will we still be collecting a weekly paycheck? Not sure. But, we do know this, we will not be “hanging up our hats” and going golfing, or living in the south for the winter, or owning a beachfront property in the Caribbean (although, I must admit, being called to be a missionary in a warm climate is very appealing to me!). We have said since before we got married when the Lord calls us from pastoral ministry we’ll see what other ministry he’ll lead us into. We truly want to work until we die. We believe God can and will–if we’re willing–use us until that point. Does this mean we want or have to “punch a time clock” until that point? Nope. By why does leaving an 8-5 job mean you get to sit around and just do as you please? We don’t believe this is what God had in mind for us at all–and I mean all of us, humankind, not just David and I.

If you are a Christian, and you’re retired, I encourage you to ask yourself, “Am I doing everything I can for the furthering of God’s kingdom?” If you’re not sure then I encourage you to pray about it and seek the Lord and ask him what it is he would like you to do with your time now. If you’re near the age of retirement (as the world sees it) have you started asking yourself these questions? Have you and your spouse, if you’re married, started to think about if/when you leave your 8-5 job what you can do for the Lord with that time? If the answer is “no,” or “not really,” I encourage you to begin doing that! I truly believe no matter our age, if we are walking with God he can use us until he calls us home. And, I don’t believe he thinks it a great idea to use this flexible time of retirement for our own personal gain/enjoyment.