Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Inevitable Question

Well, it happened. Again.

The inevitable question came up last night. You pastor's wives know what I'm talking about... It's the question that would make us rich if we had a penny for every time someone asked it (hey, I've only been a pastor's wife for 16 months and I think at that rate, I could be taking a vacation).

Conversation begins, continues, discussion of husband's job ensues. "Oh, a Pastor? That's great...."

And then..... right on cue:

"So, what do you do in the church?"


"Do you sing? Do you do the kid's stuff?"

Silence. This time trying not to laugh.


Time out. Let's just say for moment that I did do either or both of those things, (which I don't). I still find it completely irritating that not only is that the first question asked when people learn that I'm "the Pastor's wife," but also that it's assumed that those are the roles (along with many others that no one speaks of) for any wife-o-the-pastor. A pastor's wife who leads worship or teaches children's church is a great asset, but no more an asset than anyone else in the church taking that role. In fact, I would dare to say that a majority of churches need their members to step up and quit relying on their pastor, board, and wives to do the work of the church. But that's another post for another day. Back to my silence.


I had to keep my mouth shut, for two reasons:

1. This poor girl didn't know any better than to ask what she did.

2. What I really wanted to say was something along the lines of...

What do I do? Well, I am the one who encourages my husband after his sermons and acknowledge the hours upon hours of work he puts into his studies for the benefit of people who find it more important to complain that he wears jeans or doesn't talk about hell enough (creepy) or that he should do this or that or this. I hug him when he is overwhelmed and can't sleep from the pressure of lifting a church out of the sinking mud and turning it into something full of life, or when someone berates him for "not being there" for them because we needed a weekend away (to celebrate our anniversary no less). I also play the role of a sounding board when he gets so angry and hurt over individuals too wrapped up in a power play to acknowledge and respect his leadership and decision making ability, and I encourage him to follow his heart when he has the make tough decisions that some people will never agree with. I walk the lonely road with my husband, and walks the same with me. We face disappointment together when people back out of their commitments to bear some of the load. I pat him on the back when people show up at our doorstep on his "day off" (which is inevitable, when over 100 people know where you live). We do it because we love it, and more than that, because my husband has a Call on his life, and we as a team have a purpose in the big picture... but that doesn't mean it's not work.

I didn't say any of that. I just said, "I'm a member of the church, and I help where I'm needed. Besides, you haven't heard me sing."

(Time Magazine wrote a great article on Pastor's wives, you can read it here).

Monday, July 27, 2009

It is Well with My Soul

I love this hymn, and I've loved it even more ever since I heard the story behind its writing.

Horatio Spafford was a lawyer of some prominence in Chicago. He and his wife Anna had one son and four daughters, and were good friends of D.L. Moody and Ira Sankey for many years. Mr. Spafford's children had come to Christ through the influence of Ira Sankey's music and efforts with the children of Chicago. Shortly before the Great Chicago Fire of October 8th, 1871, the Spafford's son died and the family went into deep mourning. After the fire ravaged the city, Mr. Spafford found himself financially ruined. He had invested heavily in downtown Chicago real estate, which was now gone. He and his wife turned to the people of the city, helping to minister to those who were homeless and in desperate need.

After two years of ministering to the people of Chicago, Mr. Spafford thought his family needed a vacation. D. L. Moody and Ira Sankey were in England holding evangelical meetings and bringing countless thousands to Christ. Mr. Spafford decided to take his family to England, where they could vacation and also be a help to his friends Moody and Sankey.

Mr. Spafford booked passage for his family on the ship SS Ville de Havre, but at the last minute was unable to go with his family due to business. He promised to follow them within a few weeks and they would all be reunited in England.

As the ship sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, it collided with the English ship Lochearn, and iron sailing vessel. On November 22, 1873, the SS Ville de Havre sank within 12 minutes. 226 lives were lost, including the four Spafford daughters. Mrs. Spafford was rescued from a floating piece of debris. When she arrived in Wales 10 days later she cabled a message to her husband, "Saved Alone..."

Mr. Spafford booked passage on the next ship heading to England. As the ship crossed the area where the SS Ville de Havre sank, taking his precious daughters to the ocean's depths, Mr. Spafford felt the Holy Spirit fill him with a comforting peace. Leaving the ship's railing he went into his cabin where he penned the Hymn that has soothed so many souls who have been brokenhearted...

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

By Horatio Spafford (1828 - 1888)

from Hope Chest Legacy

Sunday on Monday: Go

Jason taught the final message in a series called “Disciple” yesterday. This series has been a challenge to our church to redefine what it means to be a follower of Christ. In short, it's a move away from defining oneself as a “Christian” in light of church attendance and rules to taking on the life of a true disciple, a follower of Jesus, a pursuer of the heart of God.

In previous weeks we determined that disciples touch lepers, befriend prostitutes, and offend Pharisees. Disciples also “go fishing” or make other disciples, they wash the feet of others, break bread with others… Do you see a pattern here? Relationship.

Disciples share life. And they share Christ.

The finale of this series took to heart the last command that Christ made before he ascended into heaven: “Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19)

The very last thing that Jesus said to His disciples was to GO. The Greek, poreuomai, literally means to travel, to depart. It means to take a journey. A disciple goes out, which is interesting when you consider the American church model. The American church is so consumed with getting people in their doors. “Let’s do whatever we can to get people to COME!” The productions, the plays, the concerts, door hangers and fliers, Vacation Bible School… While all of these things are beneficial in purpose, anyone who sneeks a peek behind the board room doors knows that they are also utilized by churches to draw families into their sanctuaries.

Perhaps the challenge for the American church, for you and I, is not to get people to come, but to go to them. “They” are everywhere. Who are “they?” They are the neighbor who has suffered a terrible loss, the co-worker who can’t put food on the table, the family member you have written off, the friend who needs you to forgive, and the one who needs your apology. Now that you have been sent out, they are all around you, and they were meant to be a part of your journey.

Where has Christ asked you to go? Or better yet, to whom has he sent you?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Recap: Lady's Lizard

Today Jason and I taught a leadership class for new leaders of the LIFEgroups we are launching in the fall. The concept of these LIFEgroups (or small groups if you will) is completely foreign to much of our church community, and creates the perfect opportunity to reiterate the mission statement of our church:

Find God. Together. Reach Lives.

I'd have to say that my favorite part of the conversation was the discussion on how the early church wasn't something people went to- it was a way of living in relationship, with God and with others.

I wrote some time ago about my dog and her lizard friend... and how I was reminded of my responsibility to take others to the feet of God (you can read the original post here):

Today would probably have to qualify as one of the most beautiful days of the year. Taking full advantage of the clear skies, light breeze, and radiant sunshine, I was outside walking and playing fetch with Lady, my puppy. There is a large grassy area with a big hill right behind where I live, and it is one of Lady’s favorite spots to run and play. Several days ago, Lady found a dried up dead lizard in her “play yard,” and proudly brought it to me clenched in her tiny jaws. Disgusted, I made her drop it and took her to another part of the hill to play. The next day as we were out walking, Lady found her lizard friend again, and smugly brought it once more to my feet. Still grossed out at this stiff, desiccated reptile, I once again let out an “Eeeewww!” and we promptly retreated to another part of the field, leaving behind her dead and shriveled friend.

Well, Lady is a persistent little girl. She is 3 pounds of pure energy and determination. So, of course, when we went out to play today (hundreds of yards from the last spotting of her reptile friend, mind you), Lady once again made her way to her lizard. Shocked that she found this one tiny little lizard in the midst of the huge field, all I could think was “For the love of God, how do you keep finding this guy?!”

As gross as that lizard is to me, I got to thinking that for Lady, it is just in her nature to hunt and sniff out things like that. That is what she will always do. It is her instinct to sniff out and track down things that are dead, that are dirty, and she will for the rest of her life bring those dead and dirty things to my feet in pride.

Perhaps Lady isn’t so different from each of us. As Christians, isn’t it supposed to be a part of our nature to go seeking out the spiritually dead and wounded? It is far too often that we stumble upon people who desperately need Christ, and instead of proudly taking them to the feet of God, we grimace and cry out a prideful “Eeeewww!” as we leave their desperate and withered souls in the dust.

How quickly we forget that God is in the business of bringing life into dead things. May we always take the dried up and dead, the lost and missing, to His feet.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Today was one of those days… you know, the kind of day where you are just certain that five more precious minutes of sleep will be just what you need to spring out of bed in glee, ready to approach to the waiting world. “Just… five… more… minutes…”

I am not a morning person. I am a wanna-be. I get up with my husband at 5 a.m. and hit the gym (on a good day), but let me assure you, I do not speak at that insane hour of the morning. And lest you assume I must therefore be a night owl, let me also clarify: I am not. I would be perfectly happy if my life allowed me to go to bed at 10 and wake up on my own (sans alarm) at 7 a.m. every morning. Something about a beautiful nine hours of sleep free of a wretched alarm clock… my body craves it.

Back to my five minutes.

I’d be fooling you to say it really was only five minutes. It was several desperate five minute post-waking naps before I finally hauled myself out of bed and into the shower (no gym, my five minutes lasted too long). It was a battle of the minds to stay awake as I initiated my morning routine of sipping coffee while watching my favorite cable news network for the nation’s happenings and for any sign of my dear friend and favorite correspondent, Carine-Bean.

When I finally made it out the door, my 8 mile commute was abruptly interrupted with bumper to bumper traffic. This is not unusual in the Chicagoland. My daily 8 mile journey takes an average of 25 to 30 minutes each day. But today was different: I was late! I had no time for traffic! Someone forgot to send the memo, and I was ticked.

I decided promptly that I would not let the traffic get the better of me, and like any intelligent person, I turned off onto an innocent side street. I sailed for about a quarter of a mile before I was brought to a screeching halt.


Not just any train.

Slowest......... Longest......... Train......... Ever.


Teeth clenched, arms crossed, and lips pursed, I sat waiting for a morning’s portion of eternity until the train passed. Then, because we hadn’t been waiting long enough I suppose, “friendly driver guy” ahead of me decided to let every car from the cross street in front of us into the line of traffic ahead of him. You know the guy I’m talking about, (and yes, he was very kind, but he didn’t get the memo either). I AM LATE BUDDY! And we have stop signs for traffic regulation, so enough with your friendly antics!

I was in rare form. (And by this time, I was certain I could have made it to work in a more timely fashion had I just sat in the traffic jam). The traffic, train and friendly driver guy had ruined my morning. Or had they?


It’s never fun when our own choices come back to bite us. Not only was I not the best version of myself this morning, I was the perpetrator of my own tardiness (you already knew that, I know), and it was up to me to deal with it. Not the most advanced lesson in life, but it got me thinking about how quick we can be to hold out anger and frustration at others for situations that are actually a beast of our own making.

A relevant reminder, and a lesson in ownership for sure.

Of course, if I’d had just five more minutes of sleep, I probably would have been fine.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Psalm 139:1-18

This is what was on my mind today, as I sat on the beach, marveling at God's over-the-top creation, warm sand in my toes...
1 O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake, I am still with you.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Recap: Freedom Found Me

I originally posted the following thoughts on a blog I used to write on quite regularly (that is, until I met the man of my dreams and spent the wee hours of the night with him instead of my computer screen... and since have lost the log-in for said blog). Leaving behind the 4th of July holiday brought me back to these very thoughts, originally captured on July 4, 2006.

As I prepare for an evening of fun on this 4th of July holiday, I can’t help but think about the freedom I have found in my own life. I am so glad that I celebrate and step into new realms of freedom more than once a year on a blazing summer day.

Freedom may not always appear as booming displays of sparkling and radiant color lighting up the night sky, and it is not always choreographed to the tune of songs we wish to hear—but God alone is the author of true freedom, and I count it an honor to be a part of His story.

Freedom has found me like a hero in the night over and over again. It found me when I was hopeless; it found me when I had walked away from all things true; it found me on the lonely roads of destruction and uncertainty; and it even found me when I had settled for being a captive.

So, I celebrate today like I did yesterday. And I will celebrate again tomorrow. The chains are broken. The walls have crumbled. Freedom has found me.

A Few Rays of Sunshine....

Ahhhh... springtime, summertime.....

....And family and laughs and loving time...


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