Monday, December 30, 2013

Reality: Just Another Manic SUNday.

I wish it was Sunday.
'Cause that's my funday.
My I don't have to runday.
It's just another manic Monday.

I was a big fan of The Bangles back in the day.  I can still sing almost every word of this song.  I have no idea why I just admitted that little piece of information to the world...


I was thinking about this song yesterday afternoon.  While I am not one to complain about being a pastor's wife (because I actually love it, as you can see in my other posts), it does present unique challenges.  One of those challenges happens every week.  Sunday.

It is not my funday.
It is not my I don't have have to runday.

There are different schools of thought on the role of the pastor's wife.  Many say, "I am just another member of the congregation."  And while I agree in terms of the responsibilities you hold being the same as any other member, let's be honest, you are not just another member of the congregation.

Most other members have known each other for a better part of their lives.  Most other members have some form of earthly family nearby (and usually part of the congregation).  Most other members are not known by name and birthday and home and children's misbehaviors by every other member of the congregation.  Most members do not attend a whole other church service after this one because their husband serves two congregations.

I am not just another member.

I sit with my three children three and under alone.  I get my kids ready in the morning alone.  I drive to church (including three to be buckled into five point harness carseats) alone.  I manage a diaper bag, an infant carseat, coats when we need them, church quiet bags, and hands of toddlers alone.  I have a new respect for the single moms of the world.  I pray for them.  I am exhausted for them.

But then, unlike the single moms, I slide into a pew with three small children who make it their JOB to get to their daddy (who happens to be that man up there).  I am pretty convinced that when a whole Sunday gets over without one of them reaching him, it is only because God placed angels with swords guarding the two ends of the pew...and underneath the pew in front of us...and behind us.

I pray those angels visit every week.

Most Sundays I leave feeling defeated.  I go hoping to hear my sins forgiven.  I go hoping to see God's Gifts given to my church family.  I go hoping to be filled with Truth.  I leave feeling as if none of that happened.  I didn't catch much after the cheerios spilled and two toddlers crushed them into the padded seats or after the baby insisted that even though I fed her 15 minutes ago she HAD to be nursed.

Again, most Sundays I leave feeling defeated.

That is the funny thing about feelings.  They play tricks on you.  They cannot be fully trusted.  I know God's Word does what it says.  God does not depend on me to do His work.  I go hoping for the same things I actually receive, even when I don't feel that way.  Sure, I long for the day when I actually hear a whole sermon.  I long for the day when my children say all the liturgy with us.  I long for the day when my husband gets to sit with us in the pew...

And God gives me little sneak peeks of those moments - my toddlers sit up straight and actually seem to listen, my baby sleeps quietly through a whole service, my sons say the pastor's part of the liturgy with him, and my husband sits with me on the rare occasion of a non-member's funeral or on vacation.

A friend of mine recently reminded me that there are many seasons of life.  When this season is over, another season with teenagers will come...then a season with fewer children at home...then a season of empty nesting...then a season of grandchildren...each season with unique pastor's family challenges.

As I have said before, I actually love being a pastor's wife.  God has given me two congregations full of people who love my husband, my kids, and me.  He answers my prayer for those angels by giving us pew buddies to stand guard.  He gives us Christians to live in communion with.  This should not be taken for granted, but all these are just given to me as excess blessings.  I have already received the greatest Gifts - His forgiveness, His righteousness, and His Body and Blood.

And when I really didn't hear any of the sermon, I am lucky enough to live with the man who spoke it.
He can fill me in later.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Reality: Just Repeating

When my son points at the color blue and says, "BLUE!" people of the world praise him for knowing his colors.  However, when my son says, "I believe in God, the Father Almighty..." people of the world do not praise him for knowing the Truth.  They say children can't have faith and he is just repeating what he hears from his parents.

Just repeating what he hears from his parents.

That statement is simultaneously 100% false and 100% true.

I will tell you why it is 100% false in a few simple sentences.  Faith is received from God.  I don't have the faith within myself to speak those words.  My sons don't either.  God gives the faith.  So, he isn't repeating what he hears.  He is speaking the words of faith given to him by his heavenly Father.

and that is an ALL CAPS HOWEVER, so pay attention here...

God does not just work willy-nilly through the world.  He works through means.  Through Word.  Through His Church.  Through pastors.  Through parents.

Of course my son is just repeating what he hears from his parents.  My goodness, everything the kid knows he learned from us.  Well, maybe I shouldn't take responsibility for those really embarrassing things he says, but they probably came from us, too.  Kids learn from their parents.  "Hey, that color over there is blue.  When you see that color, say 'BLUE!'"

My husband jokes about wanting to teach our kids something ridiculous and silly.  "You know, they would believe us if we started calling a cow a cat.  Let's do it.  Wouldn't that be hilarious?  Hey, is this cat's milk I am drinking?  Did you know I have a pet cow who sits on my lap and purrs?"
No, dear husband, I will not let you do that, but yes, it would be pretty hilarious.  Kids believe.

With that amount of child-like faith comes a huge responsibility.  If only we spent the same amount of time teaching the real important Truths that we spend teaching the color and number truths or the cow and cat truths!

But the world says, "I don't want to indoctrinate my children.  I will let them learn and figure out and explore on their own."  NO!  Stop telling kids they can call a cow a cat.  It isn't a cat.  That isn't the truth.  Someday, someone is going to judge them because they don't know the difference.  And when that day comes, someone will say, "Who taught this kid, anyway?  Why wouldn't a parent who loves their child teach them the difference between cows and cats?"  As a parent, stop making your kids responsible for figuring out what you choose not to teach them.  Sure, some kids may grow up to decide they want to call a cow a cat.  We can't decide for them at that point, but you don't start by letting them decide.  You start by teaching.

Even if you, as a parent, are teaching your child this creed every single day -
"I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.  And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord..."
the world is still teaching them this creed even more fervently -
"I believe in Myself and my Money, maker of my happiness.  And in the absence of all truth, our lord."

When my kids fall short, when they don't measure up to their bar set for happiness, when they don't quite get where they thought they were going, and when they fall on their faces, there needs to be Truth flowing through them.

Truth that flows from learning.
Truth that flows from their memory.
Truth that is given by God through the parents He gave them.
Truth that is "just repeating what he hears from his parents."

In the end, it won't matter if they call a cow a cat (unless, of course, they request their hamburger to be made of 100% cat...).

It will matter who they call Lord.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Reality: Life Worth Saving

I get pretty tired of reading prolife arguments that go something like this...

What would have happened if President Obama's mother would have chosen abortion?
What would have happened if this world renowned scientist's mother would have chosen abortion?
What would have happened if [insert adult who someone thinks is awesome]'s mother would have chosen abortion?

I get it.  People grow up and do things that others appreciate.  People grow up and become the first black presidents.  People grow up and cure diseases.  People grow up to do things we can't imagine our lives without.

But some people don't grow up.
Some people die young.
Some people will never do anything worthy of a news release.
Some people will depend on others for everything their whole earthly life.

Life is not just worth saving because of what it can do for you later.  Life is worth saving because of what it is.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Reality: SURVIVOR Home Edition

It really has to stop.  I have to stop living in survival mode.

The saying goes that the days are LONG and the years are short.

A good majority of the time I feel like the MINUTES are long.  I go through my day from one activity to another, and most of the time I start the activity with the goal of just getting it done.  This line of thinking is a detriment to my children.  I don't want to be like the crazy lady at the grocery store who says, "Oh, Honey, savor EVERY moment, because it is amazing."  Every moment is not amazing.  Actually, most WHOLE days are not amazing.

But I do need to savor a little more.

Spend a little extra time letting the boys figure out their scissors by themselves.  Let them spend 13 minutes trying to button their own pants.  Survivor mode puts me on edge, and every minute seems like an eternity.  That means that potty trips with a new potty trainer can seem like six eternities.

I told my husband that I have to stop living life just surviving between times that he comes home.

OK, he left for work...survive until lunch.
OK, he left after lunch...survive until dinner.
OK, he left after dinner...survive until bedtime.

He responded that he feels that way sometimes "out there" too.  "Just survive until I get home again."  It reminded me that this is not a new feeling.  I felt this way when working - survive until I see my husband and kids again.

And even though I felt something like it before, that line of thinking really does have to stop.  I am not on some reality TV show surviving in a foreign land known as my home (even though it may feel like it sometimes - complete with close encounters with various strange bugs my boys bring inside).

I make this home.
I am a homemaker.

I don't want the home I make to be one of survival.
I want it to be one of patience, of kindness, of love, of generosity, of courage, of warmth.

But I also want it to be one of honesty and reality...

Sometimes that means survival.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Reality: It's not OK.

People say you grow into motherhood as you go and grow into the number of children you have as you add them.  Such is true for me.

I remember when Solomon was six weeks old.  My husband turned to me one night and said, "Can you believe we have kept him alive this long?"  He wasn't kidding.  And I didn't take it as a joke.  I couldn't believe it either.  We actually managed to get ourselves together enough to sustain a human being's life for six weeks.  It felt pretty good.

I laugh at that story now - three years and two more babies later.  Can you believe we have kept three alive this long?  Wow!

It makes me think about the mother I always wanted to be...
The one I am so far from becoming.

When I talk about my failures as a mother, the majority of people say, "It's OK.  That happens to all of us.  You are so busy with three.  You are only human."  There is the problem.  I am human, stuck in this human condition.  But in no way does that make my failures "OK."

They are anything but OK.
Being OK means they are acceptable.

It is not OK that I yell at my children.
It is not OK that I choose my phone over my children.
It is not OK that I prefer their naptime to their awake time.

Those things are normal.  They are not, however, OK.  They are not acceptable.

As I am growing into motherhood, I am learning more and more about my failures.  I am learning how to fail openly and repent gracefully.  I am learning how to guard my own tongue as much as I guard their little ears and eyes.  I am learning to avoid saying, "It's ok," to other mothers, and instead replace it with, "You are forgiven."

As I struggle each day keeping three human beings alive, I am reminded that growing into motherhood is a lifelong journey.  These failures of mine will continue.  I don't fear that, because I know where my Peace rests.  It rests in my forgiveness.