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.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Are You a Natural?

Last Saturday I competed in the Pennsylvania IDPA State Match.  It was a lot of fun.  Although the sport is set up to teach, refine, and maintain safe gun handling skills, it is still a game.  The goal of the game is to shoot as quickly and as accurately as possible through each scenario they present you with.  You usually have a few minutes to devise a plan of action that you think will be the most efficient because in this game hundredths of a second count.  In one stage you had to start by standing at a night stand with both hands on the top of the stand.  When the beeper went off you had to open the drawer which triggered a swinging target on the other side of a wall.  Swingers swing for a while but eventually they return to an upright position, usually behind some barrels or something so if you don't get to shooting it early on, you won't be able to complete the stage correctly.

The range officers had quite a laugh at my expense at the end of that stage because when the buzzer went off I opened the drawer, grabbed my gun and then unconsciously reached down and closed the drawer before engaging any targets costing me precious seconds.  My only explanation was that I live with 3 teenagers who never close anything.  They leave the pantry door open, the cupboard doors open, the refrigerator open, their drawers open, the toilet seat up, the toothpaste tube open, the closet doors open, the front and back doors open, the garage door open, the dishwasher open and even sometimes the car doors open.  It's very natural for me to walk into the kitchen and spend my first minute there closing doors.  It's a given that I will close drawers in their bathroom and in their bedrooms.

It reminded me that what we are, we do without thinking.  I am a Mom which for me most of the time translates into I am a maid with an honorable title who cleans up after everyone.  Because I serve in this capacity, I don't even think about what I do, I just do it.

In Matthew 25 there is an interesting passage.
 34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in;36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

I find this interesting because these people had served the Lord in His kingdom, they had done the works of Jesus through the power of the Spirit, they had followed the commandments of Jesus so why did they have to question when they had done these things?  It was because they had done what they did because of who they had become, just like me closing the drawer.  Just as I didn't think in the midst of my shooting stage to prove I was a Mom or a neat person (which I'm not at all) by closing the drawer, these people did all these good works because they were good!  They had been made good, changed by the power of the Holy Spirit, so they didn't have to consciously think about all the good works they were doing.  They just  did good works because that is who the Holy Spirit had made them.  This was their new normal.

THAT is what the Christian life is all about!  It's about allowing the Holy Spirit to change you.  "All things become new", not by anything that we do, but by what the Holy Spirit does in our new nature.  We have a new normal!  Sin seems foreign and repulsive to us.  We become other-minded and not because there is some way we can gain or benefit from them but just because they are the Lord's creation that we are called as servants.

Of course there are those in this passage who tried to impress the judge with all that they had done in the Lord's name.  They were rejected!  Why?  Because the Lord did not "know" them.  His nature and spirit were not in them so their works were not of the Spirit but of the flesh and worthless to Him and to them.  Today we call those people "religious".  I call them plastic Christians-look good on the outside, but are hollow on the inside.  That is dead religion and a very, very sad state of existence.

Is it wrong to do what is right even if you don't feel like it?  Of course not!  That is part of the process but it is much better to just yield yourself wholly to God and allow Him to make you "a natural".  


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Lest the Horse Lovers Hate Me

I know that in my last post I did not speak very highly of horses (except for Bea).  So lest you horse lovers hate me, let me give you my brief horse history.  At a young age, my sister was horse crazy!  She had china horses, plastic horses, horse pictures, stuffed horses...horses, horses, horses.  When we played together we played horses. (She always got the best one, of course!) When we played Barbies, Barbie and Ken had to go horseback riding.   She had a whole collection of those Breyer horses.  It was the first counter we ran to at the hardware store.  So one summer my Dad decided to take us on a trail ride at one of the MD state parks.  I was not that big, but I was big enough to have my own horse. Keep in mind that this was my very first riding experience.  Everything was going fine until the horse behind me decided to break protocol and get in front of my horse.  This must have been a very big no-no in the horse world at this particular park because my horse got indignant and decided to pass the horse that had just passed him, on the right no less!  Problem was the horse that had just gotten the lead didn't want to lose his new found position and refused to allow my horse by.  So my horse veered into the woods at an all out run with me hanging on for dear life to the saddle horn.  Fortunately the guide came to my rescue and caught my horse and straightened the whole mess out.  I cried the whole rest of the ride and was still shaking like a leaf 45 minutes later when I finally got off that blasted animal.

My next experience with horses was with the neighbor's horses who always stayed in the back 40 of their pasture which happened to border my friend's backyard.  We would often take them carrots and apples to eat.  One day we didn't have anything to give them so we pulled up some grass (because everyone knows the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence) and held up our hands so the horses could nibble it off our hands.  My hand wasn't flat enough and the nice little horsey nibbled the grass and a piece of my hand as well.  By now I'm beginning to think that horses just don't like me much.

Then, as a teenager, I went home with a friend after church and lo and behold she had a horse.  And we decided to ride.  The horse was great while she was riding it.  But both times (yes, I have always believed that if you fall off a horse you should just get right back on), the darn horse bucked me off-YES, BUCKED me off!  What an attitude!

I pretty much swore off horses after that until a man from our congregation offered to take my husband and I on a trail ride in the mountains where he lived.  We decided to go.  Now my hubby has a lot of common sense but he has no horse sense.  You see, he was a dairy farmer in the early years and didn't have any animals on the farm that didn't earn their keep.  So horses were out.   We got on the horses and began our ride.  We went down a steep bank and coming up the other side the horse's head came back and beaned me right between the eyes and almost broke my nose.  I managed to quietly endure the pain until it subsided.  Upon entering an open field, our guide's horse began to gallop through the alfalfa field, so I gave my horse a little kick and he did too.  Unfortunately, once again the pecking order had been violated.  My husband's horse, who is supposed to be second on these mountain trail rides, took off like someone shot him out of a cannon to try to get ahead of my horse, who was supposed to bring up the rear.  All I saw as the love of my life passed me was two legs and an arm up in the air as he tried to hold on.  His feet had lost the stirrups and he had totally lost the reins.  About 20 feet ahead of me he finally just fell off.  How he held on that long I do not know.  Now, you would think that I would have some sympathy for him considering my sordid history with horses but it was the funniest thing I had ever seen and I was laughing so hard that I fell off my horse about 5 feet from where he had fallen.  All the while our illustrious guide has no idea that two of his horses were now heading for home and the Pastor and his wife were laying in some horse's lunch laughing like a pack of hyenas.

I guess my last experience with horses wasn't directly "with" horses but it left an indelible mark on my memory.  My husband and I lived on a farm when we got married.  I had moved there 9 months before the wedding and we were raising heifer calves there as a start to our dairy herd.  My husband's grandparents lived 10 minutes away.  They never came to visit until the morning after we got married.  We stayed at our home because we got married in the evening, planning to leave on our honeymoon the next day.  It had been a late night-7pm ceremony, the reception, opening presents at my parent's house and then home.  At 7:30 am the next morning we heard a knock at our door and I heard his grandmother's voice yelling "we came to see the cows!"  (I'm sure you're just as stunned as I was!)  I hid under the covers until I heard the door shut as my husband took his clueless grandparents to the barn.  Upon looking out our living room picture window that overlooked the pasture I observed my brand new husband scooping up horse dung for his grandmother to use when planting her cucumber plants.  I guess by then it was too late to have cold feet but honestly the thought of what kind of family I had married into sent a chill all the way through me.

That being said, just let me say that I like horses.  I like their strength, their grace and their beauty.  They are magnificent animals.  I like that they are loyal friends after they get to know you.  I love horse movies and videos of horses running through the open range with the golden sunlight shining off their rippling muscles.  I've even loved Mr. Ed all my life!  I just don't like me on the backs of those horses!

So I hope that you can understand my trepidation about getting on a horse with a loaded gun, even if it's just loaded with black powder.  And I hope you can understand why I just keep my feet firmly planted on the ground.

However, I do realize that my horse riding days are not over.  Of all the animals Jesus could have chosen to return the earth on, He chose horses.  It could have been cute little donkeys or camels or elephants or even emus, but no, it had to be horses.  But I'm thinking that heaven's horses will be humble and not care about pecking order or horse protocol.  I doubt that any of them would have the audacity to pass Jesus on the right and get ahead of Him either.  In fact, I'm hoping that they are all like Mr. Ed!

It Was A Rootin' Tootin' Time!

Several weeks ago we traveled to a gun shop (you're shocked, I know) to buy some pistol primers.  While there we saw an advertisement for the Keystone Cowboys' upcoming match at the local fair grounds.  Thinking that our daughter, who likes all things country and who doesn't get out much, would like it, we drove over the mountain this afternoon to check it out.  I thought to take my camera!  Eureka!  I hope you can get a sense of what we saw because it was lots of fun even though we don't own a horse, we don't want to own a horse (well, my daughter does but not us.), I've either fallen off or gotten bucked off of every horse I've ever been on, we don't like to dress up as cowboys, horses are hay burners as are dairy cows but at least our cows paid for their hay with milk-but I digress, we just plain don't have time to add this as a hobby right now (much to my daughter's disappointment).  

I was very surprised that "wranglers" as they are called when they compete come in all shapes and sizes.  This is what you'd expect to see.


But there were also quite a few ladies there as well!!  This pretty little lady on the left even had bling for her horse!  See the pretty rhinestone flowers right underneath the ear? And isn't her horse just as exquisite as she is?

As you can see, headgear was a matter of choice.  Considering my record with horses, I'd opt for the crash helmet!  LOL!

 The lady above was all business while some of the others just seemed to trot through their pattern.  I guess it had to do with how well trained the horses had their riders or how well trained the riders had their horses.  I think it was a combination of both!
This lovely lady in blue just had style going on!  I love the design on her chaps!  You go girl!

This lady had been around the course a few times.  I didn't catch it with my camera, but her pig tails (and her skirt) flapped wildly in the air as she pushed her steed to the limit.

As you can see, there was a lot of pink there.  Not
only do they ride, they also support breast cancer awareness.

I really like it that even the horse above wore pink ribbons in the mane!  I'm starting to think that maybe horses aren't so bad after all.

There were some older competitors too.  I think the oldest one was 76 years old! And there was this guy.  Can you believe that he wears white to these competitions?  Honestly, I admire his wife!

And then there was the younger crowd!

Isn't she just the cutest?  She's riding her Daddy's horse.  I don't know if she was guiding the horse or if the horse was guiding her though.  And no, she didn't shoot a gun.  She just ran the horse through the pattern for time and air gunned (which most kids would call pretend shooting with her thumb and forefinger and under the watchful eye of a range officer).

 Then there was the just plain serious types.  It was hard to get his photo because I'm inexperienced and he was just plain fast!  In fact it was hard to get any photos.  I had to keep wiping the dust off my lense, the auto focus just can't focus that fast, and I really didn't know what I was doing!  I'm very much a want-to-be photographer.  LOL!

At one point I honestly had to ask myself how do the horses feel about all this ripping and tearing and turning on a dime.  I think this horse's expression about says it all!

Here are my favorite shots of the day.  Primitive I know, but I just like them!

 I think he might have missed this shot!

Can you see the busted balloon in the air?  Isn't that cool? 

I like how the dust and smoke are in this photo. 

This is from the balloon's perspective!  LOL! 

I have to admit that the favorite part of the day, outside of being with my hubby and daughter, was meeting this little hunk of sweetness and gentile horse flesh (only a southerner knows how to spell that word).  Her name is Bea and she and I became fast friends as I rubbed her head while chatting with her wrangler about scoring, strategy, traveling, guns, black powder pistols and such.
Isn't she the cutest?

So if you're looking for something to do, you own a horse and you like to shoot guns at balloons, I recommend Cowboy Mounted Shooting.  It looks like it's a hoot and you'll meet some very nice people along the way.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Oh My! I Forgot My Cell Phone!

On the way to a friend's house one Friday evening I realized that I had left my cell phone at home.  Instantly I had a momentary attack of panic.  Of all the times I would want to have a phone, traveling to her house is one of them.  You see, my friend lives 45 minutes out of town.  Once you leave the interstate you drive for miles and miles through the country with few houses or businesses along the way.  Then you turn onto a mountain road and drive what seems like forever winding up and up.  About 10 minutes before you reach her house you pass these signs and the road becomes dirt and gravel and rock bordered on one side by a ditch created when the road was cut out of the mountain  and the steeply sloping mountainside on the other.  It's just scary! 

Not to mention that there are a lot of these in the area, one which is coming regularly to her house to enjoy the leftovers in the trash can from last night's dinner.  I was hoping that he and I were not scheduled to arrive at the same time.   (By the way this is NOT her bear.  I have no desire to photograph hers for real!  She'll have to hire a demented professional for that!) 

Now back to the panic!  Panic is not an emotion I am used to feeling.  I am a very laid back individual and feel that I have a strong enough faith in God's ever present help that there is really no need for panic.  So my panicky feelings took me by surprise and perhaps revealed a bit of Pharisaical pride!

As I got to thinking about it I realized that the thing that really bothered me about not having my cell phone was that I couldn't get instant help in case I needed or wanted it. It had become my security.  If I had a flat or my car broke down, the worst that probably would have happened was that I would have to walk a little ways to find a house or a phone to call for help.  And I did have a firearm with me (thank you Pennsylvania), so if I encountered a wild animal, just the sound of it going off would be enough to scare it away.  I began to feel quite silly and sheepish for being so upset about forgetting my cell phone.  I think that I had forgotten, if only for a momentary minute, somethingone else!  I'm sorry God. 

But in retrospect I had to ask myself a few questions.  Why was I so bothered that I didn't have my cell phone?  When had I grown so dependent on it?  Was this really a safety issue with me for this one occasion or had I developed an entitlement mentality that tells me that I should be able to have what I need or want immediately?  Was I putting more faith in my cell phone than I was the ability and desire of God to get me where I was going safely and on time?  Since when, as a Christian, do I need a safety net other than the mighty arms and gentle hands of God? 

I have lived 3/4 of my life without a cell phone.  And I'm still breathing!!!  I raised 4 children, most of the time without a cell phone!  I've had break downs, flat tires and even medical emergencies-all having been resolved without a cell phone! I lived several months separated from family and my husband without a cell phone!  I went through 3 years of college hundreds of miles from home without a cell phone!  I've faced situations where my safety was threatened without a cell phone.  The human race has survived all this time without a cell phone!  I CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT A CELL PHONE!

You know what's really stupid about this whole thing?  Once I reach this point in the road

Where these are living

There's no cell phone service anyway!  Isn't that just stupid?  LOL!

But God is "my ever present help in the time of need."  In fact He is my ever present.  And He doesn't need charged!  And I don't have to pay for His time every month!  I don't even need to know His phone number because God doesn't have a cell phone either!  Thank you Lord and help me not forget or put my trust in anything other than YOU ever again!


Friday, October 5, 2012

One Sure Thing!

"But that's not what( it/you/he/she) said!"

How may times have you heard this statement or uttered it yourself?

We live in a world where almost nothing is what it seems to be.  Products  rarely live up to the advertising.   You can almost bet that if the package says "as seen on t.v." it will disapoint! 

People live schizophrenic lives acting one way at home, another way at work, and still another way at church.  I was shocked a few years ago to discover my childhood next door neighbor on Megan's List!  Who knew?  Apparently not me!

 Clothing sizes seem to fluctuate with every passing fashion trend.  What was a 12 last year is now a 14.  Where an XL used to be a size 12-14, now it's an 18-20.   It's so confusing.

In America, the news media no longer presents an unbiased view of the day's events.  You really can't believe anything they say anymore.  Magazine photographs are manipulated by computers to appear as something completely misrepresentative of what they are in reality.  We now have sound bites that make everything a person says out of context.

 Even my mower gives me false information.  If I set the deck to cut at 3 inches, it cuts at 2.5 inches.  I always have to set it a half inch higher than what I really want it to cut. 

With all the information that I filter through my brain in a day I find myself being very tentative to classify most of it as "truth".  In fact, as I've grown older I really have to watch that I don't become cynical.  I rarely take anything at face value anymore because experience has taught me that I most likely shouldn't.  People's opinions and perceptions are often colored by mis-information that they received and prove to be unreliable.

Even in ministry, I give people the benefit of the doubt but experience has taught me that at any moment the praise or appreciation flowing from them today could be disdain and criticism tomorrow.  People are fickle.

HOWEVER....in this world of smoke screens and masks there is ONE THING that IS just what it says,  God's Word. 

God's Word will never mis-lead, mis-inform or misrepresent itself.  In fact, if we are full of God's Word, it will even help expose the misinformation that we receive from the world everyday. 

Government officials whose job it is to identify counterfeit money do not study the counterfeits.  There are just too many of them.  It would be a never-ending process.  Instead they study real money, learning every intricate detail so that when they see a counterfeit they instantly recognize that it is false.

I like the simplicity of this.  God's Word deals with every aspect of life we will encounter.  He's left nothing out.  So if we are full of His Word we will quickly recognize the false and be kept from the deceptions of this world.  I like the idea of being full of truth! Truth is pure. Truth is always true!  It provides a firm foundation, a stability to life.  This is one thing that experience has taught me-God's Word is always true, always right, always the same.  It can be trusted.  It feels so good to have something in this crazy world that I can just throw myself on and know that it will always catch, hold, secure and protect me.  It's the real McCoy, the genuine article.  It is the TRUTH!