A Typical or Atypical Pastor's Wife-whichever one you come to believe

Welcome to the barnyard. Watch your step! The things written here are raw and unedited. Just my thoughts thrown on a page as they flow from my heart.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Not Worth Nothin' (Lawn Mower Devotion Series)

Today while driving the thought came to me that I am not worth anything. It wasn't a condemning thought though and I immediately recognized that God was going to tell me something.

The human body is worth about $4.50 in American currency. Yet more value is put on human life than almost any other thing. (It used to be number one until the whales moved ahead on the list!) LOL! So basically our bodies which we spend so much money on and indulge in every way are worthless.

There is also a spiritual truth to be found in this worthlessness. Without God we are not worth anything either. In fact, if we do have any value, it is because someone of value has imparted value to us. True value then is something that is "in us but not of us". I heard so clearly this statement from the Spirit....

You are not valuable, but you are highly valued.
And I immediately recognized that being valued was much more desirable than being valuable.

There is a huge difference between being valuable and being valued.

Something valuable is such due to what is present in it's make up. Gold, silver, precious metals, money, and medications could be considered valuable because of what is present in them. It is their make up that makes them valuable.

On the other hand, anything can be valued, regardless of it's monetary worth or it's makeup. A photograph, a slip of paper containing a sentiment from a loved one, a memento, a souvenir, all of these things could be considered valuable because of the one who values them.

So, value is very often determined by the one doing the valuing and not by what value is actually present intrinsically.

This is the great mystery of the Gospel! This is what causes the angels to wonder -that God took something of no intrinsic value and made it valuable. And He spared no cost or sacrifice to do it. Adam and Eve were valuable until the fall, but at the fall, the human race became intrinsically evil and a stench in the nostrils of God, so much so that we too became eligible for hell, a place God had prepared for fallen angels, not for mankind. Sin is the great separator and it cannot be where God is because God is Holy. And because God chose to value us, even though we were everything He hates, we are now valuable. God imparted what was good into what had formerly been evil, and value was imparted.

The mind blowing thing about this is that it was at great cost that God did this for us, the cost of the life of His only begotten son when we weren't worth nothin'. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

This is such a humbling thought and it causes me to stand in awe and wonder at the great heart of God. And it once again shows me that I am what I am purely and solely because God has done it in me. It's not me at all, it's Him in me. I am nothing by myself, but in Him, I am highly valued by God and therefore very valuable.

That God chose to value me will forever remain something that my mind cannot wrap itself around and my heart cannot stop pondering.

"Behold, what manner of love the Father has given unto us. That we should be called the sons of God!" 1 Jn. 4:7-8

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Great Tax Day Postal Disaster

After my last post, I was convinced that no one could do something more stupid than what I had done with the pants. But I was wrong! The post office has taken the cake and eaten it too! Unbeknownst to anyone in town, the post office decided to close at 5pm. For as long as I can remember, they have stayed open until 12 midnight on tax day to accommodate those late filers. But this year, without any warning, they decided to make anyone mailing their taxes after 5pm use the machine that requires you to buy computer generated postage and postmark. They never advertised it, they didn't even hang a sign in the window. It wasn't on the news. They just did it without informing anyone.

So as is our custom, we traveled down to the post office around 8pm to mail our taxes. They were stamped and ready to go. Much to our surprise there was a line of around 50 people, all waiting to use the machine. After standing in line for over half and hour without moving, we decided that we would go home and eat dinner because we had worked all day and through the dinner hour and we were hungry! So we did and returned at 9:30pm to try again. This is what we found.

-At least 25 of the people that had been in line at 8:00 were still in line.
The machine had run out of stickers and there were no postal workers to replenish them.
-The machine required you to buy a book of stamps plus a $.44 stamp in order to get one postage stamp for your envelope. Thy guy in front of us had 12 envelopes. That gives new meaning to the term "forever stamp!"
-If you fooled the scale into thinking you had an over sized envelope, you could get away with paying around $1.05 for the first envelope and $.44 for any additional ones but the labels were so big, they had to be wrapped around the envelope.
-You had to go through 10 touch screens of information for each envelope before it would print your postage and it required that you type in a 9 digit destination zip code.
-the average time per person to mail 3 envelopes was 15 minutes. We figured out that we might just make it by midnight.

Then at 10:30 pm the machine's screen displayed this message. "This kiosk is performing daily maintenance functions. Please return later to complete your transaction." At this point things started to go south. One woman burst into tears. Many just said "the heck with it", and put their envelopes in the mail slot vowing that they weren't paying any late fees to anyone. One man broke into his office at work and used the Pitney Bowes machine. One man just drew his own postmark on the envelope and stuck it in the mail slot after informing us that he still owed for 2008 and they hadn't contacted him yet. He figured that they were so far behind in Washington, what difference would a day make? The volume in the room increased as people expressed their amazement, frustration and outrage! There were murmurings about destroying gov. property, telling the IRS to shove it, and what the penalties and interest were on 1 day late returns. I suggested that we all sing God Bless America, but there were no takers.

After many frustrated calls to automated "help lines", one guy just called the police...and they came! The female officer basically told us that the post office didn't care if we got our taxes mailed before the deadline and she didn't either. Around 11:00, the male officer, seeing that some were on the verge of going postal in the post office lobby contacted the postmaster. She said that she would come and take care of the machine. By now, our hopes of getting an April 15th postmark were pretty slim, but there was so much drama, we just hung around to see what would happen. She lived around 30 minutes away. At 11:59pm, the door to the post office opened and the postmaster came out bearing free stamps and promises that all envelopes would be postmarked April 15th!

Now I have to ask myself, why couldn't they just do what they always did? If it ain't broke, don't fix it! It ended up that what always happens happened anyway. Postal workers will come to work in the morning and have to postmark hundreds of letters with an April 15th postmark.

And I'm still puzzled. The post office is a gov. run business that is experiencing severe financial difficulties because as they say "so many people are using the Internet instead of the postal service". So on the one day that they stand to make a ton of money, they make it practically impossible to use their service, forcing everyone to buy stamps they don't want or need. Don't they understand their own system. Even if you filed your taxes on line, you still have to mail the voucher form with your check. This will require the US postal system!

I am still searching for the reason why the Lord decided that I needed to spend 3 hours hanging out in a poorly ventilated room packed with 50+ frustrated people just to pay my taxes. Although I don't watch reality t.v., this had potential for a very interesting show. And most of all, I have discovered that I am not the most stupid person on the planet, in fact, after what the post office pulled today, I'm thinking of running for Congress! I'll just be sure to check my outfit in the mirror before I appear on c-span to present my arguments for a TOTAL GOVERNMENTAL OVERHAUL!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Frugalness + Distraction = Stupidity

Caution: If you are looking for spiritual material today, this is NOT it! If you're looking to feel better about yourself, this is the place for you! No one who can read this could possibly do something this stupid.

Did you ever do something really stupid, by accident? Well, that seems to be my normal MO (mode of operation). A few weeks ago I went somewhere with my hubby and as we were getting into the car to go home, I split my pants. No, I blew the whole backside out of them. This is still a bit of a mystery to me because I have lost weight and they were fitting really loose. I guess maybe they had slid down and were being stretched in an area where they weren't used to being stretched or something, but they literally blew right off the back of my tukus. So when we got home, I curled them up and put them in a closet, thinking that they would make good patch material for my teen's jeans that are forever developing holes in the knees--purely by accident, of course! (or so they say)

This weekend, I, the illustrious Pastor's wife, who has life completely all together all the time-isn't that the normal MO for every Pastor's wife? Isn't that part of "the mold" we all conform to?-anyway, I decided to trade in my shorts for a pair of jeans the other day. Jeans just look better. So I reached in the closet and grabbed the closest pair. I already had my favorite shirt on, so I didn't bother to do anything but fix my hair in the mirror before I left the house. I was very busy that day and only had a few hours to get everything done, so I was, as usual, hurrying.

I went about my day running errands in the community (including the bank and the local high school office). I fixed dinner and invited the neighbor boy to eat with us. Then we took our kids to church, dropping them off for a youth retreat. So I strolled around the church with some of the parents and in front of all the youth, never dreaming that my pants looked like the newest ad campaign for Abercrobie and Fitch. Then my hubby and I went over to the mall to eat some dinner. We strolled around awhile waiting for our table to become available, going in expensive jewelery stores and the local Radio Shack. It was a wonderful evening until......right before bed I discovered that I had been wearing the pair of jeans with the whole backside hanging in shreds!!!!

All the blood in my whole body immediately raced to my face as my mind raced to remember where I had gone that day. Just as I was about to pass out gasping for air, I remembered that I had worn my longest sweatshirt jacket a lot of the day because I carry a concealed weapon. Whew! What are relief! But I can't carry the weapon on school property, so I'm still a little unclear about the trip to the local high school. If the secretaries noticed my pants, I'll bet that gave them some fresh homeschool fodder.

As I climbed into bed, feeling more stupid than I have in a very long time, I really had to fight the urge to never go out in public again. I fought the urge to wake my hubby and tell him the whole sordid tale, in hopes that somehow he could make it all better like he usually does, but I realized that nothing could fix this one.

Moral of the story:

~Just as you do with junk mail, only touch junk pants one time, disposing of them immediately! If you need patches, buy them at the fabric store.

~Wear a concealed fire arm and save your dignity.

~When you lose weight, buy new pants

~Make good use of your bathroom mirror--it may save face, and backside!

~And as my mamma always said..."wear your best underwear when you go out in public". Now...after all these years, that really makes sense to me!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Which Bible Character Are You?

One common ice breaker that I have seen used in almost every Christian group setting I have ever been in is the question "which Bible character best describes you?"

I have always wanted to say Mary, the mother of Jesus because she pondered things in a heart of faith and believed God without doubting. She was the perfect mother--why else would God have picked her, right? She had stolen the heart of an extremely honorable man which tells me that there were many feminine qualities that were well developed in her. Or perhaps Esther because she was beautiful inside and out but had a strength and courage rarely found. There is Ruth, who left all that she knew to follow another into poverty hardship because of love, duty, and family. And then there is the Proverbs 31 woman, the woman of perfection, as some think. A woman of discretion, who plans ahead, and who sees and meets the needs of those around her. Yes, I wish that I could identify my life most with these women.

When asked this question though, in all honesty, I have to say that I can most identify with the Apostle Peter. I am not apostolic in any way. Some say that I am "a pistol", but I don't believe that is the feminine version of "apostle"!

I identify with Peter on many levels. When I picture him, I picture some big, strapping man with a dark tan, bulging muscles and a quick, loud laugh. I'm sure that his wife probably found him to be a lot of fun. I'm big, have a dark tan in the summer, I do have muscles, but they aren't bulging and I laugh about literally everything--something I've been told by some is not becoming, but not my husband. He appreciates my sense of humor even when it hurts. And considering some of the things we've been through, we had two choices--laughter or despair. And I see that Peter had some things in his life that weren't all that becoming as well, but he was still was part of Jesus' inner circle.

Looking over his life, I would say that Peter was a hard worker, very zealous and passionate, and very compassionate (hey, the dude actually requested prayer for healing for his mother in law). But his zeal level seemed to rise above the level of his wisdom at times and he often blundered into situations like a bull would blunder into a china shop. Peter was one of those who could not watch with Christ, even for one hour. It was Peter who denied Jesus three times, even tucking his tail and running from a little servant girl. It was Peter who rebuked the Lord himself because he let his compassion override his discernment.

He certainly had his shining moments though! It was Peter who first came to the revelation that Jesus is the Messiah. It was Peter who recognized the holiness of the moment when he witnessed the transfiguration. It was Peter who inquired about an explanation to parables instead of acting like he totally got it. It was Peter that walked on water! Peter was the one Jesus sent to do something important and necessary when he sent him to find the coin in the mouth of a fish. It was Peter who pledged his undying loyalty to Christ openly. It was Peter who was ready to take on the whole Roman guard accompanying Judas on the night Jesus was betrayed. It was humble Peter who fell at Jesus feet declaring his unworthiness. It was Peter, who after being filled with the Holy Spirit stood and told the religious leaders of his day that they had sinned by killing the Messiah, and who, after being beaten for his proclamations, went right back out and did it again, and again, and again, until he too, hung on a cross of death.

It wasn't until today, thanks to a radio preacher that I ever really saw something about Peter. The times that he really shone, he was either in the proximity of Christ in the flesh, or he was filled with the presence and in the the proximity of the Spirit of Christ-the Holy Spirit. On his own, Peter was doomed to failure. But when Peter was close to Jesus he was strong, courageous, full of wisdom, a git-er-done kind of guy. He didn't mince words and try to schmooze the religious leaders. And he became one of the most respected leaders of the first century church. From fisherman (I never bought into the idea that he was dumb. He had a thriving business and servants that worked for him) to fisher of men. He was successful on many levels.

I guess the thing I see and most appreciate about Peter is that he never seemed to be the type that tried to appear as something he wasn't. He was just himself, even in his blunderings. And I like that about him. He needed Jesus and he knew it. He wasn't to proud to honestly realize that without Christ, he was sunk. But he also understood that "he could do all things through Christ, who strengthened him."

I want to be more like Peter. I don't care about making a name for myself, but I certainly would like to represent the name of Jesus in a powerful way. I realize that in my flesh I too am impulsive, driven by emotion, ruled by the characters of my personality, and weak under pressure. I often run to fix things instead of sitting back, examining them, and waiting on instruction from the Lord concerning them. I am quick to want to defend when someone or something I love is attacked or threatened when more peaceable means might be in order. But like Peter, I am genuine in my love for Christ. I am what I am. What you see is what you get. I have a lot of zeal and yes, sometimes it gets me into trouble, but as a very wise Pastor once said, "it's easier to stop a wild horse than to get a stubborn mule moving."

So I am encouraged once again to keep the main thing the main thing. Just Christ. Nothing else. Just doggin' on the heels of Christ, not letting Him out of my sight. Not looking left or right. Just watching Him. Following Him. Loving Him. Communing with Him. Being in His presence 24/7.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The House That Cleans Itself

I recently purchased a book called "The House That Cleans Itself" by Mindy Starns Clark. I haven't read it yet, only skimmed the chapters. It looks a little involved, so it may have to wait until fall.

I'm really hoping though that it will a revolutionary book in my life! I hate to clean--it's futile. Three teenagers and one big, hairy dog in a way-too-small house make keeping anything looking or smelling clean impossible. It takes all the fun and satisfaction out of cleaning unless I can manage to see it completed before one of them clutters it up with schoolwork or video games, or dirty and exceptionally stinky socks! (Man, who'da thunk that testosterone smelled so nauseating?) I'm glad "it's just a stage, it's just a stage." (My mantra since they were toddlers-but it still applies and gets me through many a day!)

Of course, clean is a relative term. Some houses have the 5 second rule where anything that falls can be retrieved and ingested if ingested in less than 5 seconds from the time it hits the floor. There are days when that rule can apply at our house, but not right now. The dog is shedding terribly and it would be impossible to blow all the dog hair off in less than 5 seconds.

I've always been of the opinion that a little dirt makes a house look lived in, therefore qualifying it as a "home." But I have to admit, all too often we cross over the "home" line into the arena of "Barns of America".

With spring springing into full bloom, my busy days are going to multiply exponentially. So my version of "The House That Cleans Itself--Creative solutions for a clean and orderly house...in less time than you can imagine" will kick in.

I do have a cleaning system that keeps my house relatively clean." It's called teenager#1, teenager#2 and teenager#3! LOL! I get up, make a list, go to work, come home and voila! My house is clean, the laundry is done, supper is started and dog is brushed. It seems to me that the house cleaned itself. I just wish that I could think of these things before they get into book form so that I could write a best seller and never have to clean again.

Oh, well! I guess since this title is already taken, maybe I could work on something like "The Grocery Bag that unloads and puts it's contents away, in less time than you could imagine", or "The Exercise machine that does all the work for you and still burns your calories, in less time than you could imagine", or The software that automatically does all your business paperwork for you in less time than you could imagine"! Speaking of which, I really need to get back to getting my taxes ready for my accountant appointment! Enough silliness already!

I just needed a break!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Shop Talk--On Being a Pastor's Wife

The following is a response that I wrote for a Pastoral forum that I belong to. I hope it blesses some of the Pastor's wives that read this blog.

I have been a Pastor's wife for nearly 25 years. I never felt called to the ministry. The Lord slipped this gig in on me after I was already committed to the marriage. I thought I married a dairy farmer. I LOVE cows! I loved the quietness of the barn in the morning, the calm, serene look on a cow's face as it chewed it's cud, the simplicity and routine of farm life.

When my husband first told me that he was called to ministry, I laughed. No, my name is not Sarah, but it could be! I had my reasons, but I shouldn't have laughed.

Then when I figured out for sure that he really was called and anointed of God to do this, I honestly expected God to kill me off so that the right woman could come along. You see, we weren't Christians when we married. We met in a bar. When I did get saved there were two things that I thought I could never do. I hadn't yet read "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me". In my immaturity and lack of knowledge of all that salvation provides I had the firm belief that (1) I could never go to Africa and live in a grass hut and (2) I could never be a Pastor's wife.

You see, I am NOTHING, let me re-iterate, NOTHING like any Pastor's wife I have ever known or been around and I knew there was no chance of me ever being that way! And through the years I have had a boatload, no, a Mercy ship load of comments such as "YOU????...are a Pastor's wife?" "You sure broke the mold." "You're not the "typical" Pastor's wife." "I can't believe that you are a Pastor's wife."

But God didn't kill me off, as you can see! But He did speak to me one day so clearly that it's something I never forgot. He said to me "Cyndi, I made you the way you are because that is the way I'm going to use you." What a relief that was!

Through the years, I have not struggled much with feeling that I have to be someone that I'm not. There was a period of a couple of years where all of that became confused because of some negative influences from a former staff member, but in a time of consecrated seeking, the Lord finally freed me to just be myself. I think that because I'm just a "real" and genuine person, that has opened many doors for me to develop trusting relationships with others.

I have also been fortunate to be able to function in the church body according to my spiritual giftings and not forced to do things that I don't feel equipped to do. I have occaisionally done those things, but more in the name of being a helpmate to my husband than anything and for short periods of time until someone gifted could be found.

I find that the women in our church do view me with the same respect that they would if I had the title "Pastor" and I often function in that way with them, but more in the context of encouragement, occaisional wisdom, etc. I do not and never have thought of "Pastor's wife" as a position or a calling. I can't see that in scripture. I am just a helpmate who happens to be married to a Pastor. Because I am submitted to him as my husband AND as my Pastor, and I am, as his helpmate, forming my life around his as a service to the Lord, I sometimes do things more ministry oriented. I think the most important thing I have learned is to be able to look at my husband as my husband and as my Pastor seperately. So when he does need to speak to me as my Pastor, I can receive things from him that I need to recieve without it affecting my marriage relationship.

It also helps in the area of respect because we all know that no one knows all the quirks and faults of our Pastors the way we do! But I view him as one gifted and anointed by God to lead and guide me in my Christian walk and as the gift scripture says that he is. But then other times, he's just my husband and my very closest friend. Being able to know the difference and to know that one does not affect the other has been invaluable to our marriage and ministry!

The other really valuable thing I learned through the years is that I HAVE to depend on the Lord for EVERYTHING I need, be it physical, spiritual, or emotional. When I depended on people, they always let me down. People that I trusted and thought would never betray us did and it was ugly. Had I not been looking to God to provide all my emotional needs, I could not have supported my husband adequately through it, nor would I still be unafraid to be real and vulnerable with others while fully knowing that it could happen again. I just assume that all people are going to fail me from time to time, some on purpose, others by accident, but because I am not depending on them for anything that I need, it doesn't destroy me. It still hurts, but the pain is relatively short lived.

I've learned to see myself as a conduit through which God flows from Him to another person. It's not about me, it's about what if flowing through me to others. He takes care of me as I help Him by serving others.

I think successful ministry requires that we have a certain amount of vulnerability with others in order to build a bridge of trust with them. If others percieve that I am holding back or hiding something, then they certainly will too.

This has also been way, way, way, valuable in my marriage as well. Granted, 99% of the time, God uses my hubby to meet a lot of my needs, but in those times of the 1%, if hubby is not the delivery driver, I don't get mad or think that he's not doing what he's supposed to. I just look to God to meet the needs in some other way and He's never failed me, not once. This frees my hubby. He doesn't feel pressured to meet needs that he's not adequate to meet in my life. It also allows him to offer love to me in ways that make sense to him.

I may wish that his expressions were offered in other ways, but because God meets all my needs, the things he does to express his love for me bless me. He shows his love sometimes in ways only men would think of--like buying me ammunition for my target pistol for my 50th birthday instead of flowers. I can accept that from him and appreciate the thought he put into it because it's just extra icing on the cake that God has already baked. (And I do love to shoot my pistol!) This makes my husband happy too because he's doing something that obviously pleases me and he feels as if his mission was accomplished. It really is the thought that counts.

I don't always feel comfortable in all the places being a Pastor's wife leads me, but I know that God is not unaware of where I am. I trust that He will lead and guide me every step of the way. Sure, I stick my foot in my mouth all too often. I have my moments when I just want to move back to the farm. But the call of God that was placed on my husband is obvious and to do anything else would be disobedience. And since I'm still around, I know that God fully knew and understood what He was doing when he called us as a couple into the ministry, even though I went kicking and screaming.

There's only one thing left for me...........is that Africa calling?