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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Second Chances

As a Christian, I've heard this statement over and over.   God is a God of second chances.  It's really become cliche to say this when witnessing to people who once knew God or who think they are too far gone to ever be acceptable to God.  But what does it really mean to get a second chance?

In 1999 I found myself sitting by the bed of a small child who was still in diapers.  His head and body were swollen beyond recognition.  Tubes and wires protruded from all four limbs of his body.  He was not breathing on his own.  A device was inserted into his skull that reminded me of an inverted sugar cone from his favorite ice cream shop.  He was my 2 year old son.  His body and brain had been terribly beaten from the effects of a car accident.  The magic number was 14.  As long as that monitor didn't reach 14, we would avoid risking his life by opening up his skull to relieve the pressure in his brain.

As beepers and buzzers occasionally broke the methodical sounds of the machine that breathed for him, I sat by his side holding his unresponsive hand, staring at the monitor.  Eleven........twelve.........thirteen......
A nurses voice broke through saying "Mam, the operating room is on standby."


Soon the respirator was no longer needed, but he lay there lifeless in a doctor induced coma while his little body began the healing process.

Eventually, his eyes began to flutter.  Then they opened all the way.  Day after day.  Adding more seconds to each opening. 

"Mrs. E....., when he wakes up, he will probably be a totally different person than you knew before.  His personality will be one that you will have to get to know.  He won't be the same."  My heart ached to have my happy, pleasant, sunshiny boy back.  My arms ached to wrap around him and hold him to my chest.  I wept before the Lord.  He was still alive, but I felt as Rachael in the Bible, "weeping for her children were no more."  I might never have the little boy I had come to love and delight in back ever again.

One day, he stayed awake for about 15 minutes.  During that time, I leaned over so that he could see my face.  There was no recognition in his eyes and I was horrified as I realized that he had no idea who I was.   On a whim and with a prayer I said to him, "EJ... show me your funny face."  And I waited.  Slowly his eyebrows went up, his eyes and mouth opened wide and his ears moved backward as he made a face that never failed to make me giggle.  My son was still alive in that body!  I had a second chance!

The nurse came to see why I was giggling and crying at the same time.  As I shared with her what had just occurred, I expressed my longing and aching just to feel him in my arms.  "How much longer will it be until I can hold him?", I asked.  "Well, you can hold him right now.  I'll get you a rocking chair."  I sat in the chair as she finagled all the wires and tubes and lifted him from the bed and placed him in my arms.  As I felt his little body for the first time in weeks, that feeling that you feel the very first time you hold your newborn child in your arms washed over me in waves and waves, only this was much more intense.  To go from a roadside physician telling me that he had no vital signs, to an emergency room doctor that wanted to give up trying to keep him alive, to a trauma room doctor who had told us if he lived through the night he might survive but the quality of life would be a great question to holding my little funny face maker in my arms was so overwhelming all I could was cry.  He had a second chance.  I had a second chance.  My son that was dead and lost to me had been restored to me.  Of all the emotions and feelings that I have felt throughout my life, as strong and intense as some of them were, nothing could even begin to equal the rush of joy, love, gratitude, humility and delight that washed over me when I held him for what felt like the very first time. 

Surely this is what God feels when one that was lost to Him returns.  Surely this is what causes the angels to rejoice and God to dance in heaven every time a sinner comes into the Kingdom.  That rush of joy and love and delight then waves over us as God grabs us in his arms and holds us close to His bosom determined that He will never let us go.  Forever He will cherish having us close to Him.  Forever He will give all of His resources, all of His love, all of His protection, all of His life to keep us close and safe and nurtured.

Isaiah 66 12-14
12For thus says the LORD, "Behold, I extend peace to her like a river,
And the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
And you will be nursed, you will be carried on the hip and fondled on the knees.
13"As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you;
And you will be comforted in Jerusalem."
14Then you will see this, and your heart will be glad,
And your bones will flourish like the new grass;
And the hand of the LORD will be made known to His servants,
But He will be indignant toward His enemies.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Jeremiah 31:4
" Again I will build you and you will be rebuilt,O virgin of Israel!Again you will take up your tambourines,And go forth to the dances of the merrymakers.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Brother, Companion, Fellow Soldier

Philip. 2:25-30 (KJV)

Yet I supposed it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. [26] For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. [27] For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. [28] I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again, ye may rejoice, and that I may be the less sorrowful. [29] Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness; and hold such in reputation: [30] Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me.

What an endorsement! 

Do you have someone in your life that is so valuable to you that you would plead for mercy before God for their restoration to health?

 More importantly, is there anyone that would plead for mercy before God for your restoration to health because you are that invaluable to their lives?

Am I that kind of friend to someone?
Am I that kind of wife to my husband?
Am I that kind of mother to my children?
Am I that kind of neighbor to my neighborhood?

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Power of Influence

Nancy Demoss said recently that “It’s not the power of control, but the power of influence that we have as women."  That statement really made me stop and think. 

There is nothing so distasteful as a controlling woman.  They try to control everything and everyone.  They try to control their husbands, they micromanage their kids,  they try to control their friends and extended family to suit their whims, desires, thoughts and convictions.  They are rigid people, not able to bend or give, not able to handle anything spontaneous.  

What a terrible way to live when it is in the original design of a woman to be flexible and pliable.  It's part of the definition of being a helpmate.  In one commentary I read, it describes a woman "submitting" to the idea of her wrapping her life around her husbands thus changing her shape into his shape.  They are two but they appear as one and function as one.  I know personally the wonderful freedom and blessing gained by melding your life with another so much that yours disappears so that another's may thrive!  As weird as this sounds, letting go of the need to have control of my life has been the source of my greatest personal freedom.  

Being a helpmate and being controlling are directly opposed to one another.  A helpmate is not in control.  She is waiting on instruction from the one who is. She is constantly looking for ways to bless her husband.  She is a giver who neither expects nor demands anything in return except the opportunity and privilege to make his life better. 

"OHHHHH!  That's pie in the sky!", you might say.  Not so.  Doesn't Philippians tell us that this was Christ's attitude?  Do we not, as Christians, have the mind of Christ?  Did not His resurrection grant us power to live as He lived?

1Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;  4do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

Jesus was not a controller.  He was an influencer.  He didn't herd the sheep, He led them and they gladly followed.  His influence with others was great because He was controlled Himself by the Holy spirit who is perfect in everything He does and in the way He does it.

Reality check:  It is absolute truth that there is only one thing that we, as humans, have absolute control of.  We absolutely have control over choosing between the control of God in our lives or the control of Satan. There are only two options.  The truth remains that we are always under the control of one or the other and never truly in control ourselves. 

Joshua 24:15
"If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

There is a huge difference between influence and control.  Control makes people do what they do.  Motivation makes people want to do what they do.

Just as we saw in the example of Christ, his great influence was the result of his great willingness to be controlled.  When you are controlled by love and the fruit of the spirit, people want to emulate you.  So just as it is better to give than to receive, in this context, it is better to be controlled (by the Holy Spirit) than to control others.

People of influence have often been greatly influenced by others before them.  How did this happen?  Humility, teachableness, and a vulnerability that comes only by putting complete trust in God.  Influence requires that you have knowledge, character, humility and love.

A person under another's influence will not always feel comfortable, but they will always feel safe.  When someone is being controlled, they do not feel emotionally safe and often want to run but for fear of the controller will stay and take the abuse.  A person being influenced will feel their best when in close proximity to the influencer.  People were never controlled by Jesus but they were influenced to the point that they would go days without going home just to be near him.

Oh, God, would you continue to transform us into women of faith, courage, and humility, whose words inspire courage and faith in the men around us?  In the words of Pastor John Piper, I ask that you would help us to embrace what is “at the heart of mature femininity: a freeing disposition [inclination] to affirm, receive, and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.” Amen.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hubby's March Valentine

To My Wonderful Man,

Well, Valentine's day passed without too much fanfare.  Just a couple bouquets of flowers and some "love cups" as you call them.  Then came my birthday and as usual, you went way out of your way to make sure that I had an absolutely delightful day!  How loved that made me feel!  You put your whole heart and soul into thinking of ways to please me and bring joy to my birthday.  That's one of the many things I love about you--your passion!

You are passionate about many things, in fact, you are passionate about almost everything you do!

1.  You are passionate about God.  That's what I like the most! 
2.  You are passionate about keeping our marriage strong and making me feel secure in it.
3.  You are passionate concerning the upbringing of your children even though you are sometimes hard pressed to figure them out and stumped in knowing how to proceed in certain situations.  I am too!  But you always seem to find the exact right answer to every problem or question.  That I believe is a result of #1.
4.  You are passionate about the ministry, what you preach and teach and do.  I love to just sit back and watch you work. 
5.  I wouldn't say that you are passionate about the other two jobs that you are forced to work, but I see such conscientiousness in how you perform them, that it almost looks like passion.

I love the zeal and zest and passion you have for life, how you embrace every situation with the knowledge that God has lead you there and God will lead you on.  Somehow you make life seem so solid, yet comfortable at the same time.  Living with you is like sleeping on the perfect mattress.  Strong enough to support yet soft enough to offer extreme comfort.  (At least I didn't compare you to an old shoe!)  LOL!

Nevertheless, I look forward to every minute I get to spend with you each day, just as I look forward to falling onto that wonderful mattress on our bed every night--minus the golden retriever.  No matter what we accomplish or don't accomplish in life, I can honestly say that I have been extremely blessed simply because I have had the opportunity and privilege of knowing and loving you. 

I love you!

Friday, March 11, 2011

God Knows My Voice!

During the mid 90's I had four children at home, three of which were in diapers at the same time.  In fact for half the year their ages run in succession, 3,2,1 or 4,3,2.   Lunch times were simple.  Grilled cheese, macaroni and cheese, canned pears, or sandwiches were among their favorites.  On peanut butter and jelly day, I gave them their choice of spreads for their sandwiches.  Of course, one liked just peanut butter, one liked just jelly and one liked both, but occasionally they would mix it up and change their preference.  So on the day I was fixing PBJ sandwiches I would call to them as they played in the living room, "what do you want on your sandwich?"  My oldest son would yell "Just peanut butter!".  My youngest daughter would yell "just jelly".  When it came time for my youngest son's request he would say "Me, "E.....", wants peanut butter AND jelly."  It always tickled me that he felt that he had to identify himself... as if I wouldn't recognize his voice.

It got me to thinkin'. 

Does God recognize your voice when you call to Him? 

Have I been born again?  If not, He is not hearing my prayers.  In fact, my prayers are an abomination to Him.

 Proverbs 28:9  He who turns away his ear from listening to the law,Even his prayer is an abomination. 

I know many sinners who have come to conclusion that God does not exist because when they were truly in need, He didn't answer their prayers.  It's just a fact that if I want God's blessings I have to play by His rules, not by what I think He is like or what He should be like.  I HIGHLY recommend that some thought be put into this.  There is absolutely nothing like living for and with God's presence and approval in your life.

Does God recognize your voice when you call to Him?

Or has it been so long since you called out to Him that He has to take a second look to be certain who it is?  I recently read a Pastor's blog about prayer.  In it he admitted that his prayer life is inconsistent.  He even said that when he preaches on prayer, he feels like a tour guide giving a tour through a place he's never been.  But in the end, he surmised that God just loves it when he does pray, as if he's actually doing God a favor when he prays.  Like God has nothing better to do than to sit in heaven just waiting for us to get around to paying attention to Him!

If I treated my husband in this manner, being inconsistent in how much I talked to him, spending time with him only when it's convenient for me or when the other things on my schedule allow me to "fit him in", well, we wouldn't be happily married.  We wouldn't be married at all!!!!!!  And yet, we seem to think that God, who gave us marriage as an example of the kind of relationship he wants to have with the church, doesn't mind if we treat him this way.

Deuteronomy 4:29

" But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul

As our Pastor said AGAIN last Sunday.  "If God's not Lord of all, He's not Lord at all." 

We are his bond slaves.  All our thoughts, all our actions are centered around His every desire and command.  He is our world! 

But God loves everyone, doesn't he??  Absolutely!  God loved every sinner that is in hell today.  But they are still in hell.  The problem is not that God doesn't love them, it is that they didn't love God. 

If we love God, we serve Him. Our actions are fruit of our love for God.  No one knew this better than the Apostle John, the one whom Jesus loved and the one who knew Jesus best. 

If I love my husband there are certain rules in our relationship that have to be followed in order for our marriage to stay strong, in order for trust to be established and maintained.  It's no different with God.  Rules seem to be good in today's world when it comes to children and society, but when it comes to the church, oh my, rules are a terrible thing!!!!  So I guess then that the 10 commandments are terrible too because last time I read them, they were a bunch of rules, do's and don'ts. 

Does God recognize your voice when you call to Him?

As a young Christian, I desired more than anything to have a child, but it just wasn't happening.  While I sat, knowing very little about prayer or what the Bible even said, I began to pour my heart out to God.  I showed him some verses I had read in His Word and told him that I truly believed that He meant what He said. 

Psalm 113:9
He makes the barren woman abide in the house As a joyful mother of children.Praise the LORD!

Psalm 128:3-4
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine Within your house, Your children like olive plants Around your table.
Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the LORD.

Then I began to feel guilty.  Here I was, sitting in a nice house, with all that I could possibly need whining to God about something I wanted.  I felt ashamed.  All over the world were people suffering and missionaries sacrificing and I was crying over being barren.  Then something miraculous happened.

A heaviness settled on me so heavily that I could not move out of my chair.  I felt a presence come in my driveway and all the way up to my door.  Then it entered into my house and came all the way through the house to the place that I was sitting.  It just rested on me there for a little while and then it lifted. 

When I sat up, there was something swirling around in my head that I have never let go of.

I belong to the largest family on earth.  I have more siblings than any other family on earth.  But when I call out to my father, to Him, I am His only child.  His full attention is on me.  All of his resources are mine.  All of his wisdom is at my disposal.  All of his love is wasted on me.  He's knows my voice belongs to me, out of all the voices calling to Him everyday, HE KNOWS MY VOICE!

Psalm 11:7
For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness;The upright will behold His face.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Promised Child

September 23rd was my youngest daughter's birthday.  I knew her birthday was on Thursday.  Unfortunately, I didn't know that it actually was Thursday until I glanced at the sonogram screen and saw 9/23/2010.  It's fitting that an internal sonogram would jolt my memory because the only other time I have had to have one of these totally humiliating tests was when I was pregnant with her and she was trying to be born on a day other than her due date!

She is my child of promise. I had suffered two miscarriages between her and my oldest daughter. On the day that I was heading down to the Crisis Pregnancy Center to have my free pregnancy test, I read a scripture from 2 Samuel 22:20-26 that said "Today I have rewarded you, according to your righteousness, according to the cleanness of your hands." I wondered about that verse, but as soon as I heard "you're pregnant" the Spirit of the Lord quickened my spirit. No, I didn't break out in song like the children of Israel after the Egyptian army drowned in the red sea, or Mary when she visited John the Baptist's mother, but I got a knowing that told me that I would not lose this child.

A lady in our church was a midwife and insisted that I get my hormone levels checked. We discovered that I did not have enough progesterone to support a pregnancy. I shared with her what God had shared with me and told her that I really wanted to trust the Lord to keep this child, but wasn't sure if my faith level was there or not. So after praying together, we decided that I would take half the amount of progesterone recommended and put the rest in God's hands. The next time my levels were checked, there was exactly 1.5 times the amount of progesterone in my system to support a pregnancy.

In my second trimester, I started to spot. They did a sonogram. My placenta had started detaching from my uterine wall. There was nothing they could do. Bed rest would not help. If it was going to happen, it was going to happen. So I traveled halfway across the country to a Pastor's conference in a small cow town. While there, I began to bleed--badly. My hubby rushed to me to the small cow town hospital in the early morning. I laid in the hospital for over an hour while they tried to locate a doctor to come to the hospital--scary. While I was waiting, they informed me that they didn't deliver babies there--comforting. The doctor arrived and informed me that there was a problem with the baby-duh! So they put me in an ambulance and took me to a hospital where there was a doctor on the premises who does deliver babies. They examined me and told me I had miscarried. There was no heart beat.

I've only had the experience of hearing two opposite reports about the same situation from totally reliable sources several times in my life but in each case, it was a defining moment.  And it was at that moment that I took over. Leaning up on one elbow, I assertively stuck my finger in the doctor's face and informed him that I didn't care what he said, I was having the baby on the day it due.

It was then that I experienced my first internal sonogram, a relatively new kind of procedure at that time. The doctor gave it to me to prove to me that I was no longer pregnant. Seventeen and a half years later, on my daughter's original due date, it is still evident that God was right and the doctor was wrong. It hasn't caused me to disrespect doctors at all. It has definitely caused me to appreciate God more.