Moving On and Cleaning House!

Retirement List of Things to Do

I am now into my third year of retirement.  My list of “things to do when I retire” was quite a long one.

  1. Type all my husband’s sermons (from 30 years of ministry) and get them organized according to subject and/or scripture.  Check – done!
  2. Organize all the pictures, school papers and drawings of my daughters that had been sitting in boxes for years.  Make scrapbooks for both of them telling the story of their childhood and sharing pictures and history of their parents and grandparents also.  Check – done!
  3. Organize and make a listing of my large collection of historical biographies that I have collected over the years.  Also go through my books that I used in my teaching ministry and keep only a few that I really, really enjoy passing on the others.  Check – done!
  4. Downsize (which means get rid of) some of the “stuff” I have accumulated over the years.  Check – done!
  5. Began a genealogy study of my family.  Starting this month on this!

Getting rid of “stuff” is not always easy!

In line with number 4, today I did a very painful, but needful thing.  I threw away my files and files of study notes from 35 years of teaching the Bible.  I have taught all ages from preschool to adults.  I have taught on all the books of the Bible and on numerous topics involving the Bible.

It was hard to throw the notes away.  I thought:

  • I should pass them onto my children or other teachers.  (But no, they were “my” thoughts, “my” studies.  If someone else wants to study the Bible, they need to dig into the Word for themselves, to discover the truths hidden there afresh for themselves.)
  • What if I need to teach again?  (Facing reality, at my age, there will not be many calls for me to teach.  And if I should teach again, I need to study anew and not just regurgitate ideas, thoughts from past studies.)

Still, it has been a somber time for me as I looked though the notes, read some and then put them in a recycle bin.  Hard to accept that the role of teacher is over.  Yet – my age and health tell me the time has come to surrender that role.  It’s not completely over, for I will hopefully be a teacher until the day I die — teaching my children and grandchildren by my example and sharing my love of God and His Word as opportunities arise.  But the days of formal teaching are behind me now.

Another stage in life is gone!

But all is good!  I continue to study my Bible and make new notes just for myself.  It’s kind of nice to “start anew” and hopefully I will learn even more.

I’m never too old to learn!

 

Fiery Red-heads Have More Fun!

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Growing up as a red-head I soon grew tired of all the comments:

  • Where did she get her red hair?  My parents were always asked this since they both had dark hair and my siblings all had brown or black hair.
  • And my Dad’s response to people’s questions on where I got my red hair – “She stood out in the rain and her hair rusted.”
  • Is that your natural hair color?
  • Being told what you can and can’t wear gets annoying.  For years I was told I should not wear red.  I loved the color and it was not until I was in my late 20’s that I decided to wear what I wanted to wear.  To my surprise, I found that I look fine in red!
  • Hey carrot top!
  • Hey red!
  • Hey firetop!
  • One young boy made my life miserable for a while by chanting every time I came around, “I’d rather be dead than red on the head.”
  • I bet you have a temper!
  • Are you Irish?

So for the first few years of my life, I hated being a red-head.  Then I discovered what a rare group I belong to (only 1-2% of humans in the world have red hair) and I have loved being a red-head ever since.  When my pastor husband and I attended conferences, he said it was great having a wife with red hair.  When the meetings broke up and everyone was trying to find their wife in the crowd, he just looked for the red-head – and there I was.  It also made it easy when someone would ask him, “Which one is your wife?”  Simple answer – “The red-head.”

My two sisters had dark blonde and brown hair.  Years later when we would meet someone who knew our family in the past, they always would remember me – “the little red-head” even if they did not remember my sisters.  (I think they may have hated that.)

My paternal grandmother had red hair (and Irish ancestry).  I was one of the last grandkids born in the family so by the time I was a young girl, Grandma was losing her sight.  When we would visit, she would always have me stand in the doorway where the sun would strike my hair and she could see my long red banana curls (yes, I had banana curls).  I think more than anything else seeing Grandma’s pride in me made me feel very special and love the idea of being a red-head.  As I have grown older, I have wanted to learn more about my Irish ancestry.  Think researching that will be my next item on my “bucket list” in retirement.

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Learning more about red-heads I discovered:

  • Red-heads have influenced history out of proportion to their numbers.  Famous red-heads include King David, Helen of Troy, Queen Elizabeth I, Cleopatra, Napoleon Bonaparte, Antonio Vivaldi, Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill – and of course Lucy (although she was a “fake” red-head).
  • Russian tradition declares that red hair is both a sign that a person holds a fiery temper and craziness.   A Russian Proverb warns “There was never a saint with red hair.”
  • Mark Twain said, “While the rest of the species is descended from apes, red-heads are descended from cats.”
  • We are a big hit in the wizarding world!

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  • We have the most beautiful Disney princess!

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Some “facts” I’m not sure are true, but they certainly are interesting.

  • Medieval Romanians believed red-heads turned into vampires when they died.
  • Hitler is reported to have wanted red-heads killed so that they could not produce “degenerate children”.
  • The witch-hunting manual from medieval Europe, Malleus Maleficarum, instructed that red hair and green eyes were marks of a witch.  (Thankfully my eyes are brown.)
  • And I found there is a study done in Hamburg, Germany and another in England that claimed women with red hair had sex more often.  (Not sure if that is a blessing or a curse.)

One question I used to be asked a lot was “Is that your real color?”  No one asks that now – guess that’s because they assume that anyone my age who still has red hair must being using Miss Clairol.  However, some brave souls do ask me, “Is that the color your hair used to be?”

Well – I don’t use hair dye – I use a wig!  After 16 rounds of chemo when battling my breast cancer, I lost my hair.  When it grew back, it was still red but very, very thin.  After a couple of years of hoping I would regain the thick head of hair I first had, I gave up and popped on a wig.

Yes, my wig is the same color that my hair used to be.  Sometimes I think I should buy a grey wig since I’m well past the age of natural red hair.  But one thing my husband really loved about me when we got married was my red hair.  So – taking the teasing chant the little boy used to taunt me with, I have changed it from, ‘I’d rather be dead than red on the head” to “I will be red until I’m dead.”

Brunettes may be smarter, blondes may have more fun, but nothing beats the intrigue and fascination of being a red-head.

Thank you Grandma Tate Sechrest for my red hair!!!

She Was Available!

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When I first started writing my blog I said that I wanted to share some of the funny things I saw and heard as a pastor’s wife.

So – here are two more.

I Can’t Sleep!

In a deep sleep early one morning (about 2 AM) the phone rang in the parsonage.  Since I was closer to the phone than my husband, I answered the call.  I heard a very sleepy voice on the phone saying, “Barbara, I can’t sleep.  Would you pray for me?”

After asking God to help her find rest and sleep peacefully, I turned to my husband and said, “I think I will call her back in about thirty minutes and ask her to pray for me so I can get back to sleep!”

I’m Available!

One Easter we had a new member who had just recently moved to our area.  Since she had no immediate family close by, we invited her to join our family for lunch after church.  We had a nice meal and then I invited her to join my husband and me in our living room for a cup of coffee and dessert.

Sitting down on the couch, she began telling us a little more about herself – where she had lived, what jobs she had in the past.  Suddenly, she crossed her legs in a very unladylike position revealing more leg than we wanted to see and giving us a clear picture of her black underwear.

Smiling first at me and then at my husband, she said, “You should know that at my last church I had an affair with the pastor.”

My husband quickly announced that he needed to go to his office to go over notes for the evening sermon.

After she left we laughed and wondered what she was trying to convey and to which one of us the message was intended.

To me:  “Better watch out – I’m on the make for your husband.”

To my husband:  “I’m available.”

Either message she intended was, of course, not received.  But even today I teased my husband that if he ever gets tired of me, he can always look her up.  Maybe she will still be “available.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Didn’t Recognize You With Your Clothes On!

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In a recent article, I shared that during the years as a pastor’s wife, I collected a lot of funny stories.  I always said someday I would share those stories – after my husband retired of course.

Names have been changed to protect the innocent – or the guilty.

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!

 

 

View from the Parsonage

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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!

 

RIP

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This past weekend my husband and I visited a local cemetery.  I felt a little strange as we drove in the main entrance because we were going to inspect our own tombstones.

While we are not ready to “kick the bucket” yet, we are at an age where we realize that we are not going to live forever.  Wanting to make sure our kids are not stuck with decisions and expenses on our demise, we purchased the tombstones this summer.  Friday we received notice from the monument company that they had set the tombstones in place so we went to take a look.

Looking at the inscriptions that gave our names and date of birth with a place for the future date of our death led to a little “soul-searching” and reflection on my life.

Looking Back

As I reflected on the past 66 years of my life, I feel like I have been many different people.

  • There was the little red-headed girl with banana curls that loved to walk outside after a rain, find a mud puddle and make mud pies.
  • There was the shy grade school girl whose parents moved so often, she was always the outsider, always moving on just when she started making friends.
  • There was the young girl in junior high who discovered through a speech class that, although she was shy when meeting people one-on-one, she could stand before a crowd and be funny and sing and dance with freedom.
  • There was the happy bride excited and looking forward to a long life with her first love.
  • There was the scared widow with two little girls wondering how she would go on without her first love.
  • There was the woman so grateful to find love again and a wonderful man to cherish both her and her daughters.
  • There was the stepmother trying to understand how to raise a teenage boy when her experience as a mother had only been raising girls.
  • There was the pastor’s wife trying to juggle family and job while trying to support her husband’s work at church.
  • There was the middle-aged woman facing breast cancer and learning to treasure every day of life.
  • And now there is the “older” woman who is learning to live with arthritic knees and back, leaking heart valve and decreasing energy.  While the body is betraying me, my spirit is still young.  Looking in the mirror, I often wonder “Who is that old woman?”  It can’t be me!

God has been good to me!

As I look back I realize just how good God has been to me.  I am so grateful for every day, week, month, year.  I can even thank God for the difficult times.  Not that difficult times came, but that in those times He gave me the strength I needed to make it through.  I have made mistakes – there are things I wish I could do differently.  But all in all, it has been a good ride thus far.

Looking Forward

Now I look forward to the years ahead.  All those years of responsibility as a mother, grandmother, pastor’s wife, worker are over and I have reached those “golden years.”  I find them to truly be golden.  Each morning when I wake up, I am free to do whatever I want to do.

  • No time clocks to punch.
  • No children needing breakfast or help with homework.
  • No church meetings to attend.

Having already faced death in the face when I battled breast cancer, I just enjoy each day as it comes, treasuring the memories I am now making with my husband.

Growing up I have treasured different verses from the Bible in different stages of my life.  And now as my hair gets thin and gray, my boobs sag (the one I still have) and my energy decreases with every year, I still find verses that encourage and bless me.

Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.  

 

O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do.  Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God.  Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.