I Didn’t Recognize You With Your Clothes On!

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One story my husband hates for me to tell – but I get such fun out of telling is the Sunday a visitor showed up at church.

My husband loved to get out of the office and into the community.  He felt just sitting at a desk all week was not the best way to be a help and influence to the community.  Since he is a Pepsi fan (I always said if he needs a blood transfusion they could just use Diet Pepsi instead of blood), he always stopped at the local Casey’s for a soda while he was out visiting.

Stopping two or three times a week at the same Casey’s, he became friends with the cashier and often invited her to come to church.  She always had some reason why she could not come.

Then one day she surprised my husband by showing up for the morning worship.  As my husband greeted her in the foyer, she loudly proclaimed, Pastor Paul, I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on!

I wish I had a camera with me that day to get a picture of the shocked look on his face.  Then, a second later, a picture of the woman’s face as she realized what her comments sounded like and her face turned all shades of red.

Looking around at the congregation that stood by very puzzled at her statement, she explained what she meant.  “I mean, I always see you in jeans and a t-shirt.  I have never seen you in your suit and tie.”

While my husband hoped that everyone who heard her first statement also heard the second one, I just stood there and laughed and laughed!  I still tease him from time to time that I did not know he made pastoral calls in the nude!

39 years Ago – He Met His “Barbara”

It was in January 39 years ago I walked into a church in Bethalto, Illinois, not knowing that I was about to meet my future husband. As Paul and I remember that special day, we still marvel at how God brought us together. So – once again, I share our story.

“We as a community of friends are gathered here in God’s presence to witness Paul and Barbara’s renewal of commitment to one another and to ask God’s continued blessings on them. Marriage, like our creation as men and women owes its existence to God. It is His will and purpose that a husband and wife should love each other throughout their life. Shall we pray?”

This was how our Pastor began the ceremony when my husband and I renewed our wedding vows on our 25th anniversary. We still love to remember that story.

Here’s the story!

While living in the state of Washington, my husband, Paul, found himself a single father trying to raise two teenagers. Needing support, he returned to his home town to be near family. He was very lonely and began to pray for a Christian wife. Since he was a minister and also loved to sing, he asked God if it would be possible that this wife would also play the piano and be able to work with him in the ministry.

Her name will be Barbara

While praying, he felt impressed in his spirit that God would grant him that request and that his future wife would be named “Barbara.” He was afraid at first to share that thought with anyone as he felt they would think he was crazy. But it was so real to him he needed to reveal it to someone. He finally related that information with a couple at the large church he was attending but no one else.

Four months later I walked into the church with my two young daughters.

While living in Southeast Missouri, my first husband was accidentally killed leaving me with two small daughters to care for. Everything I read about grief told me that I should make no sudden changes or moves for at least a year. However, after a year of trying to make it far from home, I decided to return to Illinois where my family could give me much-needed support. While it was great to be close to my family again, I still carried a heavy load of grief and sorrow. I tried to be strong for my two young daughters, but after a while I realized I did not want to continue living alone. Although I longed to find happiness again, I knew that my daughters’ happiness and safety were more important than my own. If I ever remarried, it would have to be a very special man who would love my daughters as well as me.

I asked God to give me a godly husband who would help me raise my daughters.

One year after moving back to Illinois, I decided to attend the church where my parents were members. When I walked in the foyer, I saw a couple that I recognized. They were friends with my first husband’s parents but I had not seen them in years. They seemed extremely happy to see me, but it was only months later that I found out why my sudden appearance at their church was so exciting to them. They were the couple that Paul had shared his secret with.

After greeting me, they hurried to locate my future husband and tell him, “There she is.”

He had no idea what they meant until they told him the red head that had just walked into the church was named Barbara. Paul told them to not say anything, but if this was the Barbara God had promised, God would work it out. A few weeks later Paul asked me on a date and the rest, as they say, is history.

And a good history it has been. Paul has proven to be a wonderful husband and, even more important, a wonderful father to my two daughters and grandfather to my grandchildren.

Today as we look back at the 39 years we have shared, we are grateful that God answered our prayers. I am no longer a red head, but he loves me anyway. 🙂

Aging With a Laugh

December was not a good month for me. It started off with a terrible head cold. My poor nose suffered from constant blowing.

When the cold was over, I had three to four days that were good – and then I got Covid.

Of course, being a good wife, I shared it with my husband.

After a couple of weeks of misery, we both looked pretty bad. I had cancelled my hair appointment when I got the cold and it was now almost eight weeks since I had a hair cut. I keep my hair very short and usually get a trim every four weeks. So with no makeup and my hair sticking out everywhere, I was not a pretty sight. My husband also was looking ragged with no shave for several days.

Then we heard a joke on TV and it has kept us laughing as we slowly recover from the effects of Covid.

Husband, looking in the mirror: “My arms are like little sticks, my chest is sagging, I can’t see my feet and my face is full of wrinkles.”

Wife: “Well, look on the bright side. Your eyesight is still perfect.”

Today I got my hair cut – and I have promised myself tomorrow I will put on my makeup. My husband has shaved and is looking good again.

Still, we are old and certainly are not the wonderful specimens of youth and beauty we once were. 🙂

But we are grateful to still love one another – even with our perfect eyesight.

Friday’s List – Ticket to Ride

I shared earlier this week a new game my husband and I have discovered and that we love. The game is so popular there are many different versions.

https://barblaneblog.com/2022/11/23/from-one-addiction-to-another/

If you are interested, check out one – or two – or more of these.

  1. Ticket to Ride (original version)
  2. Ticket to Ride Rails and Sails
  3. Ticket to Ride Europe
  4. Ticket to Ride Heart of Africa
  5. Ticket to Ride Nordic Countries
  6. Ticket to Ride India
  7. Ticket to Ride Germany
  8. Ticket to Ride Asia
  9. Ticket to Ride France
  10. Ticket to Ride Poland

And there are more. Twenty-seven versions.

View From the Parsonage

(This was my first post when I started my blog. Revisiting it still makes me laugh. Hope it will you also.)

For many years I was a pastor’s wife.  In many ways, it was a blessing for which I am thankful.  What a privilege to be allowed into the lives of families at those very joyous times:  weddings, baby dedications, graduations, anniversaries.  I have enjoyed providing the music for many a bride to walk down the aisle.

It was also an honor to share with families at those sad times:  deaths, divorce, sickness.  While “enjoy” is probably not the right word to use, I have felt blessed to provide music for the funeral of many a dear saint.

What a joy to share God’s Word in a class with the children or young adults and to see that moment when their eyes light up with understanding, to watch them grow in their walk with the Lord!

But if I am honest, I must admit that there are also times when being a pastor’s wife felt anything BUT a privilege and honor.  Times when I wanted to run from the parsonage and say, “I quit!”  It’s hard to hear your husband criticized and hold your tongue.  Frustrating when you have planned a date night, are all dressed up and about to walk out the door only to have it cancelled because someone in the congregation calls and needs your husband.  Or, you are just about to sit down to a family meal when the phone rings – and off he goes.  There were times I wanted to pull the phone out of the wall.

But along the way, I have had moments when I wanted to laugh!  Some silly and funny times.  I always said when my husband retired, I was going to write a book about “The View from the Parsonage.”

Well, there’s no book – but I certainly want to share some funny stories in my blog.  I promised my husband –

the names will be changed to protect the innocent – and the guilty.

For now, let me just share with you some thoughts –

You might be a pastor’s wife if:

  • You’ve ever had a church board hand you a job description with no attached salary package.
  • You are the secretary at the church.
  • You are not the secretary at the church, but people assume you are.
  • You think about burning down the church if that would give you more time with your pastor.
  • You used communion cups to serve your grandchildren orange juice.
  • People automatically assume you know the inside scoop on everything going on at church…and you do…but your lips must remain sealed.
  • You are expected to attend 2 baby showers, 3 birthday parties, 2 weddings and 1 graduation in a month (and, of course, brings gifts for each one).
  • You’ve ever had someone angry with you because you sent a card, but didn’t come to see them.
  • You’ve ever had someone angry with you because you came to see them, but didn’t send a card.
  • Your house sometimes feels like an extension of the church with all the traffic it gets.
  • Your husband always knows someone or someone always know him, everywhere you go.
  • Your husband is constantly excited to tell you something else he’s learned…and you struggle to remain as enthusiastic as you wish you could be.
  • You get roped into proof-reading or listening to the rough drafts of sermons…all the time.
  • You’ve resigned yourself to the fact that there will always be more books that your husband will want but will never read…but will buy anyway.
  • You could pay off your house if you just sold all the Bibles laying around the place.

There will be more stories to come!  Believe me, I have plenty.

If you read this and are a pastor’s wife, I would love to hear from you – to hear some of your stories!

Celebrating 20 Years!!!!

Laughing at how much I look like my Dad with my bald head!

Laughing at how much I ook like my Dad with my bald head!

This month I celebrate 20 years cancer free!   I am so thankful to God that I am still here – a cancer survivor!

I think of all the things I would have missed:

  • Wedding and graduations of many of my grandchildren
  • Seeing my oldest daughter earned her Master’s in Education
  • Seeing my youngest daughter become an ordained minister in the Wesleyan tradition
  • The birth of my youngest granddaughter and several great grandchildren
  • All the many trips my husband and I have made exploring our great country
  • Perhaps most of all just the 20 years I have enjoyed life with my husband who is also my bff.

I kept a journal during the fight with cancer.  Every year I get it out and read it again.  Here are my thoughts from that journal during the first few days facing the battle ahead of me.

Day 1 – Cancer! A simple word describing a disease that other people get. Just a word. Until suddenly I hear the word as I get the results of my biopsy. Abruptly my whole world changes forever. Nothing will ever be the same again.

It all started when I found a lump in my left breast. Although I called and set up an appointment with my doctor, I told myself there was nothing to be concerned about. This would just be a benign tumor. Cancer would never happen to me! After examining me, my doctor assured me it was probably nothing. Cancer in the beginning stages, she told me, seldom hurts and boy did I hurt! It was probably a cyst. If so, they would insert a needle to remove the fluid, and all would be fine. Nothing to worry about.

Then why did she tell me not to leave until she had an ultrasound scheduled? Still, there is nothing to fear! Cancer happens to other people, not to me. I’ll grow old and die some day of a heart attack.

Day 2 – After the ultrasound the radiologist wants to speak to my husband and me. He tells us he is trying to get in touch with my doctor to recommend I have a biopsy as soon as possible. He tries to comfort us by saying that cancer is seldom painful in the beginning stages. I’m in so much pain, it’s probably just a benign tumor. If pain means no cancer, bring on the pain!

Day 9 – The needle biopsy is completed. It was supposed to be painless, but I have to have three shots before they can complete the biopsy. Lord, let it be good news.

Day 12 – It’s not good news. I have cancer. How can that be? Not me! I call my husband on his cell phone. He is coming to take me to lunch and when he answers the telephone, he starts chattering away, making nonsensical comments. I cut him off, “Honey, listen to me.” Now what do I say? How do I say that dreadful word? There’s no way to avoid it, no way to make it sound all okay. So, I just say it. “I have cancer.” His response is engraved in my memory. “I’ll be right there.”

Now I have to tell the kids. How do I tell my children their mother has – there’s that word again – cancer? The kids come hurrying over with their families. I can tell they struggle with the news. My two daughters who have never been at a loss for words when talking with me are now strangely silent. They seem to avoid even looking at me. How I long to take away their pain, but I am totally helpless. This is not like when they fell as little girls and scratched a knee. I can’t wash away the pain, can’t put a bandage and a kiss on it and make everything fine again. Cancer was never something we thought we would have to deal with. That happened in other families, not ours.

Day 13 – Finally, almost 24 hours after I get the news I have cancer, the kids go home and my husband runs an errand. I am alone at last to absorb the news. I take a bubble bath and as I relax in the warm water, the tears finally come. I cry and beg God over and over, “Please let me live! Please let me live!” Over and over comes this desperate plea.

Friday’s List of Quotes – Change Is Part of Life

Some time ago I wrote about change – and how it is something many people do not like – and yet it is something we cannot avoid.

For today’s list I found some interesting comments on change. Hope you enjoy them.

  1. Wandering keeps me interested – and hopefully interesting.
  2. “Not all who wander are lost.”  – J.R.R. Tolkien
  3. “Adventure may hurt you but monotony will kill you.”
  4. “A ship in a harbor is safe, but it not what ships are built for.”  – John A Shedd
  5. “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference – Robert Frost
  6. “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change” -Albert Einstein
  7. “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” -Leo Tolstoy
  8. “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” ― Mahatma Gandhi.
  9. “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” – Winston Churchill.
  10. If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou

But I am thankful that one thing does not change.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Going the Extra Mile

Nike created a tennis shoe they called “The Extra Mile” and their ad campaign said:

We take the extra steps to chase something bigger. Even better…we go the extra mile.

However, Nike was not the first one to share the idea of going the extra mile. While Nike was suggesting we get out there and move and physically run/walk more, Jesus challenged us to pursue something greater than just another mile on our walk/run.

He said in Matthew 5:41:

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

What exactly did Jesus have in mind when He made this statement? The Greek word used here refers to someone being forced to help someone. Jesus was talking about a common practice at that time. According to Roman law, any Roman soldier could order a Jewish civilian to carry the soldier’s baggage, often his heavy armor, for one Roman mile.

Obviously, this practice was resented by the Jewish people. But instead of resenting it, Jesus said to carry it one more mile.

So it is with us. Many times we are offended, hurt and we harbor resentment toward the one who has harmed us. Jesus is saying we need to deal with our resentment and go the extra mile. To seek peace and offer forgiveness. This verse was part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus added that we are to love our enemies, pray for them and not turn anyone away if we can meet their need. All of these require us to go the extra mile.

Many times, we are quick to remember when someone has offended us, but we need to ask the Holy Spirit to make us aware of times when we may have offended someone else. Going the extra mile may require us to be humble and reach out and say, “I am sorry.”

May God help us to be people that will seek to go that extra mile in offering forgiveness, understanding, love and devotion in our marriages, with our children, our parents, our neighbors and yes – especially with that person whose opinions and beliefs are so opposite of ours.

Friday’s List for Wisdom and Laughter

  1. Pride always demands that “I’ be in the middle.
  2. Let us pray not for lighter burdens but for stronger backs.
  3. In God’s kingdom there are no undesirables.
  4. By loving the unlovable, you made me lovable….Augustine
  5. Married life: telling your husband something ten times only to have him say “You never told me that.”
  6. You are only as pretty as you treat people.
  7. Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clear to the bone.
  8. One day you will wake up and there will be no more time to do the things you wanted to do. Do it now….Paul Coelho
  9. Don’t save anything for a special occasion. Being alive is the special occasion.
  10. Don’t worry that your children are never listening to you. Worry that they are always watching you….Robert Fulghum

A List for Wisdom and Laughter – In Honor of Mothers

I have shared some of the one sentence (or two) quotes that I have found either good for a laugh – or serious reflection.

So – in honor of our mothers, let me share some quotes that I hope will make you laugh – but also appreciate your mother.

Things mother would NEVER say:

  1. “How on earth can you see the TV sitting so far back?”
  2. “Yeah, I used to skip school a lot, too”
  3. “Just leave all the lights on … it makes the house look more cheery”
  4. “Let me smell that shirt — Yeah, it’s good for another week”
  5. “Go ahead and keep that stray dog, honey. I’ll be glad to feed and walk him every day”
  6. “Well, if Timmy’s mom says it’s OK, that’s good enough for me.”
  7. “The curfew is just a general time to shoot for. It’s not like I’m running a prison around here.”
  8. “I don’t have a tissue with me … just use your sleeve”
  9. “Don’t bother wearing a jacket – the wind-chill is bound to improve.
  10. You don’t want to eat your vegetables – just grab a hand of M&M’s.