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.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Baseballs, Pirate Patches and Mr. Bubble

To say that the last couple of weeks were not an adventure would be a lie. One Thursday I went to work, just like I normally do.  I had noticed some wonky things with my eyesight and decided to call the eye doctor, just for a quick check. By 10am I was out of his office and into an eye surgeons office and by 11am, I was scheduled for surgery bright and early the next morning. 

Surgery was pretty much a non event. I enjoyed watching the surgeon use a straw-like vacuum to suck out all those floaties that had veiled my vision for months causing me to need excessive amounts of light. See ya later alligators, as my grandson would say! The nausea afterwards was no fun, probably caused by the 2 hour car ride with my head leaning forward staring at my toes.  I am a little prone to car sickness and believe me, no food for 24 hours mingled with some happy juice and a long car ride was working it's magic. Even the stop halfway home for some ginger ale and something to put in my stomach didn't help. 

Once arriving at home, two boxes bigger than I am, and that's sayin' something there, were unpacked of all kinds of weird equipment to keep me face down for the next 5 days. 

This little number became my best friend. Mine came complete with a tray which held snacks, my journal and some good reading material.  It also had a mirror system that enabled me to see someone's face if they were standing in front of the chair. That really helped in making me feel part of the world while I was locked in this half-blind face down cocoon. I'm not a big tv watcher, but the Waltons were never so appealing to me as they were those 5 days.  Of course, my husband preferred to bend over upside down and stick his face under the headrest where mine was peeking out. His antics and funny faces did help lighten the mood at just the right and needed times. Since the pad and head rest they gave me to ensure comfort while sleeping face down was more like a medieval torture machine, I endured the nights with the help of youtube and the scripture downloads I have on my phone and then during the day I cat napped in this chair. Fortunately my fears of needing a plastic table cloth under the chair to catch all the drool did not materialize. Save the carpet!

There was also an assortment of pillows for my face, a large square form block with an apparatus for a face pillow to use while riding in the car.  It really helped on those long trips back to the hospital for post surgical checkups. My favorite thing though was my husbands strong arm that I clung to when he took me on walks outside. Having to bend over and put your chin to your chest does leave you vulnerable to storm drains and parked cars.  He gently guided me around them several times a day because quite honestly, being confined in that head cushion for 50 minutes out of every hour for 5 whole days tends to make one a little stir crazy!

Okay, now you're probably wondering why I titled this baseballs, pirate patches and Mr. Bubble. Well, eventually I didn't have to be face down all the time.  Now I am allowed to sleep on my side or on my stomach, but this time I can turn my head to the side. I cannot, however sleep on my back, lean back in a recliner, fly in an airplane or go anywhere with a significant increase in altitude.  This is due to Mr. Bubble who now resides in the back of my eye for the next couple of months. The doctor put him there so that when I laid on my stomach he would rise to the top and put pressure on my newly glued on retina. Over time he will dissipate but for now he is a constant irritation.  Every time I blink, he jiggles. When I walk, he jiggles. As I turn my head he floats from top to bottom and side to side in my eye as gravity dictates. Unlike the Mr. Bubble I knew as a child, who gave me many hours of bubbly fun in the bathtub, this Mr. Bubble is a bit unnerving because it's the only thing I can see out of my eye at present. He also gives me occasional moments of terror when I wake at night forgetting that I'm temporarily blind in one eye. It's a good thing I don't have heart trouble! He gives new meaning to night terrors!

Because Mr. Bubble is not allowed certain places in my eye, thus the warning not to lay on my back or look heavenward, I have taken to sleeping with baseballs in the back of my pajamas. Believe me, when you roll on one of those babies in the middle of the night, it wakes you up! So far, this seems to be the only thing that successfully keeps me off my back and reminds me to turn over in a stomach-ward direction. I did receive Kudos from the Dr.'s office for my ingenuity. 

After a week, I was released to resume all regular activity, which includes work. Staring at a computer screen and various types of purchase orders when all you can see is light and dark out of one eye sure strains my good eye, so I have to wear an eye patch. The only color I could find was black. After bemoaning the fact that I already look like I'm turning into a zombie with one regular eye and one hyper dilated, blood shot eye, now I had to add a black pirate patch to the mix. Fortunately for me, I have very creative friends who decided that black was just not my color. So they covered it with a pretty blue/purple paisley print. It makes me feel much better about wearing it now!

So there it is folks. My life over the last two weeks.  And my life over the next 4-6 weeks as well. But when it's all said and done, I'd rather be able to see with both eyes than to sleep on my back. I'm funny that way! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

For Better or Worse...This Year Was Worse

Hubby and I just celebrated  had our 33rd wedding anniversary. On Thursday, the day before our anniversary, my retina decided to say "tallyho" to my eyeball. My vision became
wavy and full of weird shadows.  So on Friday, he drove me 1 1/2 hours to Holy Spirit hospital-hows that for a comforting name?-for emergency surgery on my eye. What a way to spend an anniversary.  I could just picture him sitting in the waiting room thinking about how far behind he was getting with his lawn business and being "so thankful" that he had married me.

Actually, he was sitting in the waiting room thinking but more about how I was doing than anything else. Life has been challenging lately.  He has had some very scary symptoms but after extensive blood tests appears to be okay. There are a few issues that we will be dealing with in the coming months with him and we are facing another surgery on my right eye and cataract removal on both eyes.

Things come in life that we neither expect or welcome. When you are our age, it is just common sense to know that issues are going to pop up from time to time, but that doesn't make them any easier to process or go through.  Frankly, with my husband's symptoms the way they were and the doctor's puzzlement at them, I had an almost daily fight with fear. My hubby is just about my whole world. He is the one person that knows me best and loves me in spite of it. I guess he would say the same about me.

Even with all the craziness that day, we managed to laugh, to enjoy each other, and to pray together even though I had some crazy yellow surgical socks and a puffy blue hat on that didn't at all match the grey checked hospital gown that I was sporting. Seriously, it's a good thing that married love is blind and I'm not talking about the kind of blind that I currently am! LOL! Don't worry, It's temporary.

Even now, when he's tired in the evenings, he takes me for walks.  I can't go by myself because of how I have to hold my head and the fact that I am totally, temporarily blind in my left eye.  He steers me around storm grates and parked cars so I don't end up looking like my son's French Bulldog "Jacks". He doesn't like to walk, but he gladly dons his shoes and a smile and off we go. In order to see my face, he has to turn upside down and look in the mirror system on the front of my special chair that has been my abode for the last 4 day. And of course, when his face pops in there, it has some silly expression on it to make me laugh. It's about my only contact with the world right now. He's the best nurse ever.

Anniversaries come and go. Some are better than others. We will celebrate our anniversary when things calm down around here. But we can celebrate our marriage everyday by loving, honoring and cherishing each other for better...or for worse.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Things You Heard At First

1 Jn 2:24

 24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.

John is talking about the doctrine that they heard in the beginning.

-That doctrine that first brought the revelation of the Messiah to their hearts.
-That doctrine that, once received, changed them from the inside out.
-That name that has power to work miracles in mind, soul and body.
-That message, that brought hope, comfort and an eternal future with God.
-That Spirit that was now abiding in them.

John was speaking about those who had heard but had discarded the message that they had heard. He was reminding them that what they heard at first was the truth and that if they remained in the truth, the truth would keep them abiding in Christ. 

The phrase "what you heard from the beginning" caught my attention. As all Christians do, I battle thoughts from time to time. The devil tries very hard to get my mind off Christ's sufficiency and on to my insufficiency. Every now and then when the he thinks that I may have let my guard down, he tries to sneak in and pollute my mind with old thought patterns, old fears, and old failures and try to convince me that I really haven't changed at all or that I'm not measuring up in this Kingdom walk of mine. He tries to tell me that I've just been "playing" with God and that in the end I will discover that he had deceived me all along. It's a cruel ploy, but hey, he's not known for his manners.

When that happens, I find it helpful to go back to the very beginning, to that day when I first really "heard" the message of the gospel and received it as my own.  

I'd heard the gospel all my life. I grew up hearing it, reciting verses about it and singing about it in a church choir. I knew the drill that in some churches you were going to hear it from 1000 different viewpoints and then be begged and pleaded with to come to an altar and accept it. I had attended a Baptist Vacation Bible School where I heard about hell in graphic detail. I went to the altar then out of fear.  I guess you could say that I got scared into the Kingdom. After a month or so, my decision faded away. All of that had little noticeable effect on me.

Twenty-two years later I sat at the local Assembly of God on a Sunday morning, one lowly figure in a sea of 500 people. I was there alone, or so I thought, my backslidden husband was still running from God. As I sat in the pew during the prayer, a wretched sinner mind you, I heard the Lord's voice say to me "I love you and I want to have a loving relationship with you." It caught me by surprise. There was no altar call that morning, but I made one.  I figured that if God had gone so far to speak to me, then I could go the rest of the way. The call was so strong that I stood up and walked to the front of the sanctuary unaware of the 500 people who were staring at me.  The Pastor saved me from looking like a total idiot by actually giving an altar call. A lovely, red haired lady came and prayed with me and as we prayed it felt as if a 5,000 lb weight lifted off my shoulders. I literally floated out of church that day. My life was forever changed from then on and oh how far along it has all come.

So when the devil tries to discourage me, I think back to the very first thing I heard when I knew that God was speaking to me. I was a sinner. My marriage was failing. I was unhappy in my career. I was a negative, totally defeated, unlovely person. I had already once started to end my life but thoughts of God and "that hell to shun" stopped me. Thank God for Baptists! I remember back to the things I heard at first and I'm reminded that if God loved me when I was unlovely, He still loves me yet today with that same love. I certainly wasn't perfect then and I'm certainly not perfect now but I'm just as loved by God either way.  So no matter what is happening to me, no matter how bad my day is going, and even if I'm allowing the devil to plant bad thought seeds in my head, God's love for me remains the same that it was the very first day when He wooed me to an altar with whispers of His love for me. 

I can return to that sacred place in my mind and I remember that "the things I heard at first" are still true today!
-That doctrine that first brought the revelation of the Messiah to my heart.
-That doctrine that, once received, changed me from the inside out.
-That name that has power to work miracles in mind, soul and body.
-That message, that brought hope, comfort and an eternal future with God.
-That Spirit that is now abiding in me.
-God desires to love me and to be loved by me. What a thought!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Missionary Dating-A Dangerous Game

What is dating?

Some years ago, I knew a young couple.  They spent hours and hours together but swore that they were not dating. This went on for many months. All of the sudden they were engaged and later married. But according to them, they had not been dating.  They were just spending time together as friends. Fortunately for them, they were both saved and living for God. Their marriage turned out to be a tremendous blessing and they remain married and serving God faithfully.

Let me begin this by saying that the definition of dating is "to do an activity with someone you might be romantically interested in." In the above mentioned case, one of the parties was romantically interested, the other swore that they were not, but time proved them wrong. And frankly, everyone except the one who was in denial knew they were dating too. 

Don't be hanging out with a person of the opposite sex, whether alone or in a group, several days or evenings a week and not call it dating. It is. You're only fooling yourself. 

What is missionary dating? 

Missionary dating is simply a term used to describe being unequally yoked with an unbeliever in a romantic type relationship under the guise of desiring that unbeliever's salvation. Seriously, again, you are only fooling yourself if you think that you are going to win this person to the Lord by dating them. One thing you might want to ask yourself is, how many people have I won to the Lord in my lifetime? If you don't have a string of people that you have directly affected that ended in salvations, then your heart is lying to you.

I knew a young lady who was highly involved in youth group.  Her dad was a deacon. She started bringing "a friend" from school to youth group.  He seemed to fit in real well but he made no bones about being unsaved.  In a few weeks, it came out that they were dating, then engaged.  She married him and within two years she was in trouble.  He was drinking, cheating on her and beating on her. When the kids came along, it reached a real crisis and she left him, eventually divorced him and walked completely away from the Lord. She had been warned, pleaded with, prayed for and cried over but she refused to listen.  Her heart had already become too invested in this guy and he trumped the Lord. 

Another young lady was in a similar situation.  She had walked away from God totally. Then she met a young man and became highly involved. The Lord convicted her of her need of Him and she made a new profession of faith. She wrote me to inquire about what I thought about her dating this young man. I offered to meet with her so we could discuss it but she never followed up. She knew what I would say. She simply said that she would have to pray about it.  She ended up marrying the guy and as far as I know, things are okay between them, so far, but she is not loving and serving God. She may have some semblance of religion, but in her heart she knows that she is not in good standing in God's Kingdom. 

I could go on and on with more stories, but I think you get the idea.

Why is missionary dating dangerous?

The biggest reason that missionary dating is dangerous is because it's the total reverse of God's Word.  It's completely backwards! It's the opposite of God's design for finding a mate. In fact, it's disobedience to his Word.

Those that missionary date say that they are hopeful that the one they are with will accept the Lord and become a Christian.  The Bible says the opposite.  It says that "bad company corrupts good manners." This is never more true than in a missionary dating situation.

Sometimes the unbeliever will pretend to get religion or may even think that they are pleasing God because they are attending church but they usually attend to please the person they are romantically involved with, not because they are passionate about loving and serving God. There is no spiritual transformation.  They are still dead in their sin and in the "off-limits" category. Seriously, do we want to give someone the idea that they are serving God when they are still bound for hell? Is that love? 

Once they are married, that all goes away which is evidence that it was never there in the first place. By then it's too late and the Christian is faced with serving in two opposing relationships. It's a life of misery spiritually and can also be misery emotionally and physically. It is not worth the small amount of pleasure it may produce in the beginning.

The correct order-God's established order- is to wait until a man or woman is saved and faithfully serving God before dating. You can't fish in the unbeliever pond and expect to get a good catch! If you do get a catch and have any regard for God's Word at all, you will end up wanting that person's salvation simply to satisfy your fleshly desire. How selfish is that? What is of the flesh is flesh, what is of the Spirit is Spirit. If a person is not secure in God, if God is not their everything, then they have nothing to bring into a relationship except needs that they will expect another human being to meet. This ends up in unrealistic expectations in a relationship, a sure killer. 

Christian, can you honestly say that your deepest desire for your unsaved companion is for them to truly be saved?  Was your intention from the very beginning to be a witness to them and see them saved or did the idea of wanting them saved offer you some justification for spending so much alone time with them? Why this person? Did the Lord lay them on your heart before you started to befriend them on a more intimate level? Had you been eagerly seeking the Lord for their salvation before you initiated or agreed to a deeper relationship? If not, then you need to examine your motives. Do you want them to be saved because you have such a passion for souls or so that you can be with them and with God?

When you spend a lot of time with a person of the opposite sex, that is dating. You are doing it because there is a romantic, fleshy attraction at least on your part. To say you are not dating and then spend hour upon hour alone with that person is only deceiving yourself. While you're investing your time, you are also giving away your heart and soon you will be desiring what God's word says is "forbidden fruit." Either way you have already bought some heartache because no matter how it ends up, it is going to hurt.  Get out now if this is you. Better yet, just obey God in the beginning and allow Him to bless you.

The person may be the nicest person you know.  They might be nicer than any Christian you know. The fact of the matter is that they are of the Kingdom of Darkness and you are from the Kingdom of light. Their father is the devil and yours is the Lord. What fellowship can darkness have with light? There is no fellowship between the devil and the Lord.  They are mortal enemies. So what fellowship can you have with a sinner? Fellowship is defined as "properly, what is shared in common as the basis of fellowship (partnership, community)." It speaks of the intimate bond of fellowship between believers (people of like faith).

That doesn't mean that you should not witness to them and care for them. How else will they get saved? But if the witnessing and care is a result of an already present and growing romantic, fleshly affection then you, dear brother or sister in Christ, are out of line and out of the will of God. 

Excuses I hear:

"He/She goes to church. They just aren't saved yet."  God's requirement is not that they attend church.  It's that they are redeemed, washed in the Blood of Christ, born of the Spirit and living to serve Him. How will you ever be able to truly follow the Lord's plan for your lives when so divided in focus, purpose, and belief? It's impossible. Something, or someone, will have to give along the way and scripture and experience reveals that it is usually the Christian. It was disobedience to get into this relationship in the first place, which is a heart issue that should have been dealt with. It's only going to get worse the deeper you go into the relationship and you will soon find yourself far from God.

"I prayed about it and God told me that it's okay." You might have thrown some words heavenward, but you weren't listening. God will never tell you something contrary to His Word. And you really didn't pray.  Prayer involves taking something to God desiring His honest opinion and desire not just wanting Him to approve of what your desires are. And seriously, do you expect me to believe that you took what you knew was disobedience to the Lord and He said "Oh, you're the exception to my Word. You're special and so spiritually strong that you can handle this? I will allow and even bless this, just for you?" Don't make God a respecter of persons. He isn't. You are flesh and blood like everyone else that this commandment applies to.

"There's just no Christian guys around. I may never get married otherwise! I don't want to be alone all my life." First of all, you are never alone if the Holy Spirit resides in you. Secondly, Christ is all in all. If you are lonely, it is only because you have not allowed Christ to be all that He wants to be. If Christ is not the one meeting ALL of your needs, then you really are not ready for a relationship. He can be so BIG in your life that it just seems that there isn't any room for anything or anyone else. You are complete in Christ! I wish singles would believe and embrace this! The world gives the impression that finding that "perfect soulmate" is the end-all of lonliness and trouble but the Bible speaks of the conflict that comes with marriage. Yes, it says that marriage brings this on! In 1 Corinthians 7,  Paul writes:
 32 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33 but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.
Furthermore, scripture does not support the idea of a soulmate-that one person.  Plato came up with that idea. But...once you are married, that person, whoever it is, is your "one". So it had better be the right one.

Listen single Christians! Don't ambush your future by allowing fleshy passions to rule your heart! Submit your heart, body and future to God. Trust God to bring you a mate at the right time and place. Do you really think He can't the meeting of the right person? Seriously, He can and will if you will just focus on Him.