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!

Friday’s List for Wisdom and/or Laughter

More wisdom from my daily devotion book.

  1. Salvation is not a self-help program.
  2. What you worship is what you become
  3. We are often so caught up in our activities that we tend to worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.
  4. Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.
  5. Satan never fears the Christian whose Bible is covered with dust.
  6. Religion is man searching for God; Christianity is God reaching down to man.
  7. The greatest treasure a person can leave her children is an intimate knowledge of God.
  8. Many people pray as if God were a big aspirin pill. They only come when they hurt.
  9. Ministry is our love for Christ dressed in working clothes.
  10. Some people dream of great accomplishments, while others stay awake and do them.

I’m Back – and God is Good!

My blogging has taken a bad seat to pain and physical therapy. After two months I am back.

I no longer wobble when I walk.

I am so thankful that after several years of pain that just grew worse each year, I am free of pain. Seven years ago, I had my right knee replaced. I was supposed to have the left one replaced a year later, but I had such difficulty healing from the right knee that I did not do it. Apparently as my left knee got worse, my left leg began to bow, and I ended up with one leg shorter than the other.

Several times I went back to my surgeon who had replaced the right knee complaining that my knee still hurt. (Actually it was not the knee, but the area just below it.) Taking x-rays of my knee he would assure me that the knee replacement was fine. He finally sent me to the University of Iowa and they recommended a knee brace to make that knee stronger. The brace did nothing for the pain and my back began to be extremely painful also. Over the years pain and I became bosom buddies.

At 74 years of age, I began to despair and wondered if I really wanted to live to be “old” if this was going to be my life. The pain limited me from playing with my granddaughter, from taking walks with my husband and even standing in church for worship.

Thankfully I finally found a doctor that realized what was causing all the pain. My body had slowly tilted to the left and my spine, my pelvis, my hips, my shoulders – all my body was so far out of alignment that I even had a rib sticking out on the left side.

Off to physical therapy. The initial evaluation revealed my range of motion was extremely limited and my strength, especially on the left side, was very weak.

After two months of hard work – I am in alignment, I am free of pain.

The first time I took a long walk with my family and experienced no pain, I felt like pinching myself to see if I was really awake and not dreaming.

Lesson learned from all this. Speak up when your doctor does not seem to address your problem. I realize now that the surgeon who replaced my knee was only trained for knee problems. When the x-rays showed the knee replacement was okay, he just dismissed me and my pain. He never gave a thought that there might be other issues than the new knee. Other doctors told me I had arthritis and assumed that was the cause of the pain. An older woman complaining of back pain – easy to just say “arthritis” and prescribe a pain pill. Only when I insisted that something was wrong when a rib was sticking way out of place did anyone begin to say “Hey, let’s take a look at the whole patient and see what’s going on.”

it is up to me now if I continue to be free from pain. The exercises have to be an ongoing part of my life. Changes in my lifestyle were also made. No more sitting in a recliner with my feet up in the air putting pressure on my back. No more going barefoot less I start leaning to the left again. Small changes with big dividends. I can do this!

Being absent from blogging I have debated whether to return. I have asked myself if anyone really enjoys the blogs or if anyone is encouraged by anything I write. After prayer and reflection, I realize that I write because I love it. While I may never have hundreds of followers, if only one or two are blessed because of my blogs, I will continue.

Friday’s Quotes For Laughter and/or Wisdom – Robert Frost

Robert Frost is one of my favorite poets.

One that I really love is “The Road Not Taken.” I feel the last
part of that poem in many ways sums up my life. Many times, I think I have
taken the “one less traveled by.”

Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference

Do I regret it? Never. It has made life interesting.

So here are a few of his quotes.  Hope you enjoy them.  If you have never read his poetry, I encourage you to do so.  I think you will enjoy them.

  1. Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.
  2. A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never remembers her age.
  3. Before I built a wall, I’d ask to know what I was walling in or walling out.
  4. Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.
  5. The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work.
  6. If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.In three words I can summed everything I have learned about life…”It goes on.”
  7. Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.
  8. The best way out is always through.
  9. The best things and best people rise out of their separateness; I’m against a homogenized society because I want the cream to rise.
  10. The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.

Friday – Time for More Wisdom or Laughter

Well I appear to be on a row. Love sharing quotes I see and hear and Friday seems to be the day to do that. Hope you laugh or have a moment to reflect on a statement.

  1. The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.
  2. Swallowing of pride seldom leads to indigestion.
  3. A pessimist is a person who is seasick during the entire voyage of life.
  4. A person becomes wise by watching what happens to him when he is not.
  5. You are only young once, but immaturity can last a lifetime.
  6. Do not have your concert first and tune your instruments afterward. Begin the day with God.
  7. Man sees your actions, God sees your motives.
  8. Isn’t it interesting how people are not too busy to stop and tell you how busy they are?
  9. Criticism from a wise person is more to be desired than the approval of a fool.
  10. Love is the forgetting of one’s self in the service of others.

Another list for Wisdom or Laughter

In my reading I love to collect those one or two sentence phrases that make me laugh or make me think. Here are a few I hope you enjoy.

  1. Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society…Mark Twain
  2. Why does a woman work ten years to change a man’s habits and then complain he is not the man she married?…Barbra Streisand
  3. The trouble with “A place for everything and everything in its place” is that there is always more everything than places…Elayne Bundy
  4. The reason they are called the opposite sex is every time you think you have fooled your wife, It’s just the opposite…Walter Winchell
  5. Before we work on artifical intelligence, why don’t we do something about natural stupidity?…Steve Polyak
  6. Three wise men – are you serious?…Author unknown
  7. You can learn much from children. How much patience you have, for instance…Franklin P. Jones
  8. Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself…Tom Wilson
  9. If we’re not meant to have midnight snacks, why is there a light in the fridge?…Unknown
  10. I love being married. It’s so great to find one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life…Rita Rudner

One Sentence for Wisdom or Laughter

Some wise – and perhaps some funny – sayings I found in my devotion book. Hope you enjoy them.

  • Lighthouses don’t fire off cannons to draw attention to their light – they just shine
  • If your service for God is worth anything, it’s worth everything
  • By the time you get your shoulder to the wheel, your nose to the grindstone and your ear to the ground, it’s time for lunch
  • Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship
  • What you possess will go to someone else when you die, but what you are will be yours forever
  • The devil’s best tool is not an active sinner, but an inactive Christian
  • Failure is something we can avoid by doing nothing, saying nothing, being nothing
  • If you realize you are not as wise as you thought you were yesterday, you are wiser today.
  • Some people never change their opinion because after all it has been in their family for generations.
  • Some people pray like God is an aspirin tablet – they only pray when there is a problem.

Are You Anticipating?

Although it has been years ago, I still remember the day when I heard I was going to be a mother. What excitement as my husband and I began planning for this addition to our family.

I read books on child care. We began shopping for a crib, a baby bed, and tried to decide if we should use cloth diapers as our mothers did or go with the modern throw away kind. We picked out a new paint color for the nursery. I enjoyed a baby shower given by friends and had such joy finding a place for all the gifts.

After a few months while I still found joy in the waiting for this child, I also began to really long for the nine months to end and the child to come. There was morning sickness that seemed to never end, back aches as my stomach got bigger and bigger. The closer I got to the expected delivery date it seemed the more active my child became. It was hard to sleep at night as no matter how I laid, she seemed to move and turn and I was miserable. Sometimes I could feel what I realized must be a foot or a hand and my excitement grew.

See the source image

The time for her delivery came – and went. Now my anticipation grew stronger. Come child, come. I am so tired, so miserable and long to be delivered from this stage. But even more, I am so anxious to meet you.

For nine months I have thought about nothing much but you. I have wondered if you would be a girl or boy. I prayed that you would be healthy and have all your toes and fingers. Often I tried to imagine what you would look like. Would you have my red hair or my husband thick, dark hair? For nine months you have been the center of my thoughts. Everything has evolved around “when the baby gets here.”

As the delivery date passed, my anticipation grew much stronger. Every morning I would wake thinking “will this be the day?” Every night I went to bed thinking “will the baby come tonight?”

Then it happened. Sitting in my living room with my husband, my water broke. What excitement as we grabbed the bag we had packed a few weeks before for my stay in the hospital. Thankful that we lived only a few blocks from the hospital, we hurried to the car and were filled with such excitement. The baby was finally coming!

At the hospital there was still a time of waiting. The doctor said “yes, the baby is almost here. Just a few more hours.”

My husband paced the floor as I prayed the baby would come soon. It was painful and I wanted the pain to end, but more than the pain, I longed to finally hold this child in my arms.

After a few hours, the baby was born! I still remember as if it was yesterday, the moment I held her in my arms. To finally see her face to face. To be able to count her toes and fingers, to look into her beautiful hazel eyes, just like her Daddy’s. To whisper to her how much I loved her and how I had longed for her arrival.

It’s Christmas time. We are excited about the day. Seeing family members, opening presents, enjoying a great feast.

But I wonder, do we really understand what this time of Advent should be about? How much do we anticipate the return of our Lord? Do we even think about it?

Does the thought of His return fill us with excitement? Do we count the years since His promise and wonder “When will you return?” Do we think about what it will mean to see HIm face to face? Does that thought fill us with wonder?

There is such chaos in our world today. Covid has created health issues, and divided people on what our response should be. Politics have beoome so ugly, so divisive. Many are suffering financially. Fires in California, tornadoes in Kentucky. Almost weekly we hear of a shooting in a mall, in a factory and now even in our churches and schools. We are like a woman in the last months of pregnancy, hoping for deliverance soon.

But where do we turn for deliverance? Some are thinking if we can just get Donald Trump back in the White House all will be well. Others think if we can just get rid of Donald Trump and keep Biden in the White House all will be well. Some are hoping Congress will pass some legislature that will solve it all. Just the right action by them and suddenly the Covid crisis will pass, the economy will get better, the violence will be controlled.

As for me, while I have no idea when that day will come just as I did not know the exact day my child would be born, I live in anticipation.

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Just as I did not sit around doing nothing when I was told I was pregnant, so must we not just sit around and wait for the day of His return. I was busy preparing. How do we prepare for the Lord’s return? He told us in HIs parables. We work to help others, to make our world as much like His kingdom as we can. To be His hands, his eyes, his arms to those in need until He returns and makes all things right.

This season, I encourage you to seek to do all you can to reach out in His love to the hurting world as you wait for His return.

And in all the dinners, parties, family gatherings, please take time to remember what this season should really mean to us. And in all the chaos, frustrations of daily life right now, remember our Lord will return. While we wait, work to be His hands and feet to help those in need.

There’s a light upon the mountains,
  and the day is at the spring,
When our eyes shall see the beauty
  and the glory of the King;
Weary was our heart with waiting, and
  the night-watch seemed so long,
But His triumph-day is breaking, and
  we hail it with a song.

In the fading of the starlight we can
  see the coming morn;
And the lights of men are paling in
  the splendors of the dawn;
For the eastern skies are glowing as
  with lights of hidden fire,
And the hearts of men are stirring
  with the throb of deep desire.

There’s a hush of expectation, and
  a quiet in the air;
And the breath of God is moving in
  the fervent breath of prayer;
For the suffering, dying Jesus is the
  Christ upon the throne,
And the travail of our spirit is the
  travail of His own.

He is breaking down the barriers,
  He is casting up the way;
He is calling for His angels to build
  up the gates of day;
But His angels here are human, not
  the shining hosts above,
For the drum-beats of His army are
  the heart-beats of our love.

(Henry Burton – 1578-1648)

Give Me Hair!!!

My latest prayer

When I was a little girl I had beautiful red hair and my mother fixed it in curls like Shirley Temple. Everywhere we went people would comment on my hair and I felt special.

As a teenager I always felt like I was not “pretty” but I still took comfort in the thought that my hair was “pretty.”

Then as an adult cancer came and took my hair.

After cancer treatment ended my doctor told me my hair would grow back – possibly even thicker than before. But it did not. After a year or so he ran various tests to see if there was something else wrong as his cancer patients had always seen their hair grow back. We eventually found out that one of the three chemo drugs I took caused more permanent hair loss.

I did not really mind too much as I had worn wigs during my treatment and no one knew it was not my own hair. Slowly a little bit of hair came back but it was very thin and grey. So I just continued to wear my red wig and enjoy being that “special” redhead. My husband said he loved it when we were at ministers’ conference and someone asked him who was his wife, he could just say “the redhead.”

As time went by I realized it was probably time to accept that I was no longer a young redhead and join my husband with grey hair.

So I found a beautiful grey wig and made the adjustment to losing the “special” way I felt as a redhead.

Still, grey can be beautiful, right?

After accepting my grey hair I had to get hearing aids. With aids and glasses it became hard to get my wig adjusted and the ear tabs aggravate me. The last few years my hair has come back some but is still thin. I wonder if wearing a wig all the time is preventing it from growing back. So I am going without the wig and praying it will grow back. I always loved being a redhead and it was hard to go grey. Now I struggle with having little hair.

It has been hard for me to go out in public with my thin hair, but people tell me it looks good. (Of course what are they going to say – “you look terrible.”) 🙂

I am using different essential oils with lots of vitamins and nutrients and massaging my head each night. I will give it this summer without a wig and see what happens.

In the meantime I’ll just keep playing the Cowsills song and make it my prayer.

No More “Huh” or “What”

For some time I have been denying that I am having trouble hearing. Watching a movie or listening to my pastor on Sunday there are times when I will miss a complete sentence or two because I just cannot hear well. When listening to friends I find myself asking them “what” “huh” or just trying to guess what they said from the part of the sentence I did hear.

This is not good for meaningful conversation. Trying to “fill in the blanks” when you do not hear everything someone said can lead to real miscommunication.

My husband, who has worn a hearing aid for several years now, has pleaded with me to get a hearing test. I found myself turning the TV up louder and louder until he insists we must turn it down.

While I recognized I was not hearing well, I hated the thought of needing a hearing aid. Hearing aids to me were for old people and I did not want to accept that title for myself.

Still, I knew I could not deny my hearing loss much longer. Some days my husband would not put in his hearing aid because we were just staying at home and he did not want to bother with them. However, before much time passed I would insist he put them on because he kept denying he was not having trouble hearing – but I just needed to speak up.

When we began having that same conversation – but this time it was me who was insisting he was mumbling, I found it hard to deny I needed help in hearing.

The straw that broke the camel’s back so to speak came on Easter Sunday. My youngest daughter and her family joined us for lunch. After lunch we took communion as a family. When my husband finished leading us through the sacraments, I thought he said he was going to pray. Bowing my head I kept waiting to hear him pray.

When several seconds had passed and no sound was coming, I looked up to see my family all looking at me. My daughter said in that exasperating tone that told me I needed to listen, “Mother, he asked you to pray.”

I quickly prayed and I knew I was going to be in trouble when I finished.

Again in that very exasperated tone my daughter declared, “Mother, you have to get a hearing test.”

I agreed. So – I scheduled an appointment.

No surprise – I failed the test. So now there’s the cost to consider. Good hearing aids are not cheap. I checked out different models. This one was the cheapest, but probably not the best.

Now that my husband and I both have hearing aids, buying Christmas presents for each other will be easier.

Only one thing wrong with having hearing aids. Now I can’t excuse myself from not listening to others by saying I just did not hear.