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Monday, March 9, 2015

Desert VS Dessert

So tonight we're sitting in small group listening to the story of one of the couples.  As they shared, they were saying that they felt like the Israelites who were wandering through the desert and they were afraid they may even be the generation that didn't make it into the Promised Land. So much of what they said resonated with our story. What I'm learning is to be patient and to listen and learn in those desert times. I know that God has been faithful to us. Just like the Israelites, I can look back and see how He gives us just what we need at just the right time, the manna in the desert. I'm not loving the desert times of life but I know they're part of the journey. I see God's hand working in our lives and I love that!! I'm trying to focus on that. Love the dessert times but know the desert times are equally as valuable for me!!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Random Side Note

So...I got a lot of feedback from my post the other day-mainly from pastor's wives. And for a moment, I'm focusing on Senior Pastors, Lead Pastors, the big boss. I know staff wives have their own challenges but it's different when the buck stops with your man.

 Being a pastor's wife is really hard.  It's tough balancing your husband as the leader of your house and hearing about the status of the church.  It's tough with the schedule that not only he keeps but if you're like we were, the whole family keeps.  Our family really pastored as a family unit.  The kids went with us a lot of times (if it was appropriate) to do ministry.  We got invited to a lot of social events (which I LOVED).  Our schedule was crazy....I did love it actually.   I got a lot of phone calls and texts to pray and counsel or just to listen...not as much as Levi but still.  He probably had better answers too:)

Emotionally it's also tough. I will say that our church was incredible and very healthy and we didn't experience the emotional turmoil and I will just say it, abuse, that a lot of pastors face.  We did experience the pain, hurt, and grief right alongside our people and that's hard to handle sometimes.  It's just weird.  You know a lot about people and a lot of it is fabulous but a lot of it is hard. It's ugly at times and dirty and wrong and yet you love these people.  We cultivated a culture of authenticity and a safe place where our people could be honest about their hurts, habits, and struggles.

Balancing raising kids and knowing people are watching your parenting is tricky.  That glass house thing sucks.  Parenting is hard enough being able to do it in the privacy of your own home.  Kids happen to have their own personalities and thoughts and sometimes, they're not those perfect, little angels that pastor's kids are supposed to be...sense the sarcasm please.

Loving your pastor (who also happens to be your hubby) after you've had a big fight about something stupid or after you or he has said something hurtful and then you watch him spread the Good News at church, it's enough to make you go crazy.  Trying not to feel like a hypocrite or that he is tough.  I'm keeping it real people. I hope this isn't just me that felt that way at times and I adore Levi for the record.  Marriage is tough anyway, add that element and see how much fun that is!

Worrying about your personal finances along with the financial status of the church is stressful.

This church thing consumes your husband.  You see him answer the phone and immediately wonder what's going on.  Praying that it's a good phone call.  You see his emotion, his stress, his joy.  You have conversations on your date night about things that could help the church, help a certain family, help the kid's department.  You get your feelings hurt when people are ugly or hurtful or act like they know how to run a church better than your man.  You act like your feelings are not hurt.

You try to figure out who your friends are...who can you trust, confide in?  You don't want to heap it on your husband, he has enough to deal with.  

Your husband has given his life.  You have given your life, your family's life to this body of people who aren't always the nicest, most Christlike human beings.

You're not perfect and it's okay.  It's okay if you don't have your hands in every area of ministry at your church...even now, those are hard words to type.  I'm a bit of a perfectionist, control freak.  You don't even have to sing or play the piano.  You don't have to like everyone at your church.  You're human.  Let yourself be!

I really can't complain about the people at Catalyst.  Man, we were blessed with fabulous people but I heard lots of horror stories and my heart breaks for pastor's wives.  If you're a pastor's wife and you don't have anyone to talk to that understands, message me, call me.  I know you need support.

We're in HOT Water

So, one of our big gripes about our house was our hot water heater and how we didn't have enough hot water.  We had to strategically plan our Sunday mornings so we could all get showered and out of the house on time. I couldn't run the dishwasher and shower at the same time for fear of no hot water, feel my pain? Right?!!  So, we went on like this for 6 months.  It wasn't awful, it was just a little inconvenient.  Well, after Christmas, the breaker was getting flipped by the hot water heater and we were sure we were going to have to replace the whole thing because, let's face it, it was not working at full potential....or so we thought.  Thankfully, my husband is frugal enough to do some research before replacing the whole heater.  He found out that we could by a new heating element for $30 and if that solved it great, if not, then a new hot water heater was in the future. Thankfully, with the long distance help of Don, Levi installed the new heating element and it worked.  We had hot water and I mean HOT water.  So hot that it's almost too hot and I love hot showers and baths.  We forgot how nice it was to have unlimited (almost) hot water.  We had gotten okay with the way it was.

So, that got me often do we as Christians or even just as people, go along with things being just okay?  How often do we just coast along because things aren't awful?  How long do we fail to cultivate an active spiritual life with Christ because we're doing pretty good on our own and there's no present crisis?  How long do we avoid difficult, confrontational conversations with our spouse because we know that if we go there, there could be a major fallout even though the end product could be a much healthier relationship?   How long do we turn a blind eye to a negative behavior of our child because if we actually acknowledge it, we actually have to parent and deal with it?

I wonder if we actually:

  • got in the Word of God on a daily basis and made that and our prayer time just as important as other time sucking behaviors (I'll let you fill in your time suck of choice- mine was Facebook),  if we would find that our minds, hearts, and souls were refreshed and renewed.  I think we would yearn for that time and we would see our lives change in such a positive way.
  • talked about the "elephants" in the closet with our spouse/significant other before they turned into the huge issues that we create them to be, if we wouldn't find the intimacy that our hearts long for with our spouse and a more joyful home.
  • tuned into our kids and got to the heart of their behaviors and dealt with them consistently and compassionately if we wouldn't see them develop into the responsible, kind, and caring people we know they were created to be.  I think we would also have a lot more fun!
I don't know but I think it's worth a shot.  I know that for me, it's easy to get into a rut...even if it's a good, well meaning rut, it's still a rut.  I get focused on doing all the right things and following all the right rules and I lose sight of the meaning and purpose of what I'm really hear for.   I've got to get back to being intentional about my time in devotions, my time with my husband, my time with my kids.  It goes by so fast.  I don't want to just coast...I want to soar.  I want to make a difference and I want to be effective in all I do, not just complacent about it.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Things are Looking Up

So this week, things are looking up.  We decided in December that we were going to agree and choose a church and just try to plug in.  No church that we have tried is perfect and we don't all 4 love everything that we've experienced.  However, we decided to just choose one and go for it.  We decided that we were going to join a small group.  We went to the kick off this week and sat in a group with about 5 other couples.  Out of those couples, 3 of us just moved within the last couple of years.  In fact, one of the other couples just moved this summer like we did.  The wife is a teacher, in our city.  How crazy.  I just couldn't help but feel like this was confirmation that these new friends would understand, empathize, and support us during the next year.  I'm excited to connect and build a community of friends here. Yeah!!

I also this last week saw a counselor. Our session was valuable.  Basically, she validated that I'm stressed and how stress can affect every area of life.  We also dealt with some self esteem issues and how I see others as more important than myself.  It was interesting to put some words to feelings that I've felt.  The counselor likened some of this to our relationship with Christ.  She said that people who have a healthy self image freely accept the grace and love that God offers.  People who struggle with self image feel like they have to work and earn God's love, grace, and mercy.  It was an enlightening time of self reflection.  I've seen counselors before and I didn't feel a great connection and there were times that were just plain awkward.  I may not go back to this particular counselor but I am going to go back.  I really enjoyed digging in and thinking about why I act/react to certain triggers.  I forgot how therapeutic talking to a counselor is. I also realized that I didn't really need that for myself when we were in Rowlett. I had these great girlfriends who really got me and helped me without paying for it. I probably owe them lots of copays....So, on the way home, I called my friend and told her about my experience.

That got me thinking....

I've been really blessed to have these fabulous girlfriends for the majority of my life.

 In college, I found my YoYo's and these girls have grown with me through marriage and motherhood, we've shared lots of really happy times and some really sad times as well.  They were my first roommates and we saw each other at our best and worst. We are all so different but those ladies have helped form  and shape me.

I was blessed to have some fabulous women in churches that we've gone to as well.  I'm thankful for their leadership and mentoring.  Our small group in North Carolina was amazing and I love those women and am so thankful for their influence on me as a young mother.  They definitely stepped in when we had Addy and were so helpful.  I learned a lot about cooking, canning, mothering, and how valuable friendship with women in other stages of life is.

As we moved to Texas, I was so terribly lonely as a young mom now of 2 babies.  I joined a meetup group online.  As I think about that now...I was desperate.  Thankfully, I met some fabulous women and ended up hitting it off with a few of them.  We formed our own little group and during those early years, before the kids turned 4, it was not uncommon to find me among these women and kiddos 2-3 days a week.  That was so life giving to me. We had our own support group.  As my kids reached pre-K years and I worked at their pre-K's 2 days a week, that group changed.  I kept in touch with those women but one in particular who will be a lifelong friend.  I can't imagine my life without her.

Then, through Catalyst, I met lots of other fabulous women.  One who challenged me to get out of my comfort zone for real, we ended up running 2 5K's together, one was the Warrior Dash.  She is so incredibly opposite of me in every way but man I love her.  She taught me so much about loving people, really truly loving them right where they are. There were definitely others as we journeyed our 7 years there.  I gleaned so much from so many different women.  It definitely got harder as I went back to work full time because I felt like my time was pulled in so many different directions. I missed so much impromptu lunches or late night Starbucks.

Although, I'm reflecting on the women, there were also so many great couples we've been able to hang out with. It's much harder as a couple to find that couple that you both really click with.  We found them.  They were the people that when we were all together, we were all mom and dad to each others kids...that sounds weird but everybody took care of everybody.  It wasn't weird, I don't think.  They were the ones we could be really honest with about our relationships in front of our spouse and could offer insight and advice and it was never offensive to the other spouse...again at least it wasn't to me.  

Okay so that got longer than I anticipated.  I'm thankful for all of the relationships that I've had and I look forward to developing those here. I know they will happen because I know we will intentionally live life with others.  That's who we've turned out to be.  I say those awkward things and ask those awkward questions that at times, maybe I shouldn't.  I/we are vulnerable and we share the things that can either get us rejected or cause others to open up and be okay with being vulnerable too.  I long for those deep relationships to develop and unfold. I long for community.  I long for friends who get me.  I have to remember that those things take time.  I guess my encouragement would be for those of you that are content to stay in your bubble....break out.  Your new BFF may be right in front of you.  People need you and you need them.  This life was not meant to live alone, selfishly...yep I said it...selfishly.  Share who you are with others, share your time, your energy, your emotions and if you live life with people long enough, they will drain you and they will take what you give BUT...they will give as well.  Life is sweeter when shared!!

Have a great weekend!!  

SIDENOTE:  As I'm sitting here thinking, more of my fabulous life friends are coming to mind...please don't be offended if I didn't specifically mention our relationship. I am thankful for you for the impact you've had on my life.  I was not trying to highlight people and leave others out...these were the just ones that I mentioned, I could write a book.  I am so grateful for all of you!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Happy New Year...only 18 days late

I keep telling myself that I need to blog more frequently, that it's therapeutic for me to get my thoughts out, that I want to update my friends and family about our life.  And then....I do nothing.  I get busy and distracted and I just don't do anything.
So, thus Jan. 18 being my first time blogging since the new year.

So, here are some updates:

Our oldest turned 10 this week.  For some reason, this birthday was quite hard for me.  I can't believe that she has hit that milestone.  She is such an independent, compassionate, and sassy child.  She is a mini me and I cannot deny that at all.  I am so fortunate to have her as a child.  She teaches me every day to enjoy being creative, to dance and sing frequently, to give to others and give people the benefit of the doubt,  and to enjoy being outside.  I am so proud of her and can't wait to see how God uses her to build His kingdom.

This transition continues to be a challenge that I am trying to learn from.  This is such a weird spot to be in.  I know that Levi needed a change and being near my parents was the best case scenario.  I am loving that part of it.  Having my mom come with me to the kids practices, getting to meet my parents for lunch or shopping, having last minute dinners with them, and them watching our kids has been AMAZING.  I'm not sure I could go back to not having that.  That being said, we were so accustomed to our life in Dallas. I had a great job and loved my coworkers, I had my best friends within minutes, I loved our church and the people there.  So, to not have all that greatness, has been really hard.   I feel like a broken record to keep harping on that and I'm ready for things to be easier.  Things are falling into place.  We have found a church and are going to plug into a small group here in the next few weeks.  Once we get settled and in a grove, I'm going to audition to be a vocalist.  I miss leading worship a lot.  The kids are really enjoying the church and I think we all feel good with our decision.  Levi has a more consistent schedule and is enjoying what he's doing.  He is "picking" with great success and finding that fulfilling.  You can read about it here.  I'm not sure if this will be a long term or short term endeavor.  I miss hearing Levi preach and teach.  He is so gifted in that area and I miss hearing him terribly.  Work is good, definitely making more friends there and feeling like I'm fitting in well.

This new year, instead of making resolutions, I thought about things I want to do better.  I hate resolutions because I feel like such a failure when I break them.

I want to be healthier.  I've gained about 15 pounds in the last 6 months, beginning with our move.  We ate out while our house was being fixed.  Then, we had dinner with so many fabulous friends before leaving Dallas.  Then, once we moved, I just wasn't disciplined at all.  I'm still not if I'm completely honest.  I have got to see my weight as a health issue and not as a pride/vanity/I want to be a size 2 issue.  I need to get active and make better food choices.  I'm also trying to drink more water.

I'm also going to focus on my spiritual health as well.  I think we do a disservice telling people, you don't have to read your Bible and pray every day to be a Christ follower, even though that's true.  If we don't do that, we're missing out on knowing who God is and how to live life to the fullest.  It's about a relationship but if I'm not talking to and wanting to know more, it's not a relationship.  It's not about reading and praying for this much time every day, it's about desiring to be in relationship with Christ and then doing what it takes to maintain that relationship.

I want to enjoy life.  This summer, my neighbor and I got tattoos...I know shocking right?!   I've wanted one for a while but wasn't sure I could do it.  Well, I did it,   My tattoo means to embrace life.  I want to do that better as a parent and be less concerned with my kids being perfect, my house being perfect, and more concerned with my kids and my husband being happy and content when they're around me.

I think that about wraps it up.   You are caught up with my life.   Hopefully, I'll blog sooner than later.