I’m running out of options and the few remaining aren’t that promising. My primary care physician and I agree on that. He’s great about realizing I’m not your average patient that you can just pump with drugs and so he searches for more natural remedies for me. I’m a bit of a medical freak and I know it.
Today he asked me how my stress levels were. Ha! Yes, it is true that reducing stress in a patient with Crohn’s Disease can be very beneficial to their guts. I’ll admit it – stress goes straight to my gut and I can literally feel it. My husband keeps an eye out for me and has even called me on some stressful situations and said it would be better for me to back out or avoid those situations. I’m so grateful for his support, but sometimes, stress just happens.
I’m a pastor’s wife with three kids, one of which has an autoimmune disease that keeps us going back to specialists every 6 months for MRI’s and other testing. Nope, no stress here. Did I mention that my husband actually pastors two sister churches and that they are each doing a Vacation Bible School this year – different programs of course – and I’m learning parts for both of them? My oldest is working at camp for the summer and I miss him very much, but I hey he is a senior now and it’s time for this mom to get in on all of the senior class fundraising things – don’t wait for school to start. Time is money!!
I suppose that for me, some of those stresses are worth it. I’d be a fool to think I could truly remove all stressors out of my life and remain forever on an even keel. By removing stressors, I’d also be removing amazing parts of my life. This disease has already taken enough from me. I won’t let it take my life.
A fellow pastor spoke with us about concern he had for our boys. Evidently he heard the appeal at the end of a special week of prayer emphasis at school and didn’t see my boys stand up. Perhaps we should talk to them about it. Hmmm.
First of all, we’ve never encouraged our kids to stand up for an appeal just because it was there. Don’t lie to God. If it’s not in your heart don’t try to look like everyone else so you can pass some sort of people are so judgmental test. Only stand up if you feel God is leading you to do so.
The truth of the matter, I have actually applauded my oldest son for NOT standing up. That’s right. A whole bunch of kids in his class at church, years ago, decided it was time to get baptized. So the pastor called all of them down front, and Michael was the only one who didn’t go, because he hadn’t made that decision yet. So I did what any caring parent should. I told Michael how proud I was of him for not feeling like he had to go down there just because everyone else did. When he did come to that decision, it was amazing. It was in God’s timing and when Michael was ready, not because he felt he had to follow the crowd.
God wants your heart, 100% of the time. An emotional appeal that gets you to make a half hearted commitment – that’s just not what God is looking for. Can He use it? Sure He can, He’s God after all. You can make a somewhat commitment and He can lead you the rest of the way, but it might take longer. Why not just make a full decision for God – when you are ready? Is there any pressure? Well, the way things look, the world can’t put up with too much of the craziness going on, so you might want to think about getting ready a little faster. Just sayin.
My husband was sharing some of his recent conversations with some church members, telling how prayers have been answered in some areas. He told me how he spoke very bluntly (I would say rudely) to one person and I responded, “You said that to him?” My husband of course replied, “Yes.”
I was beginning to think my pastor husband had lost his “bedside manners,” with some of his parishioners, but he continued. “He likes it when I talk in his face, because that’s the way he is. If I didn’t, he wouldn’t appreciate anything I say. It is how he communicates.”
I ran this bit of explanation through all I knew about the various church members and realized, he was right. He had taken the time to know the person and know how to best communicate with them and after praying about pastoral counsel, went for it!
It was a good lesson for me. When I really need to communicate something important to someone, do I study them and know how best to present it? Have I learned how they would be most receptive to my words? Do I take enough time to show I care about who they are to converse with them in a way that makes them feel comfortable?
Do you have an important conversation you need to have with someone? Take the time to intentionally study them and learn how you can make that conversation something they want to be a part of.
Confirmation. It’s a lovely thing to get. People look at you weird for what you are doing and for just a moment you begin to let those doubts creep in through those tiny little alleys of disbelief you left open. Then when you need it most, confirmation comes! It doesn’t always happen like that. Sometimes you already know you are on the right track, but the confirmation is just an added bonus. No matter how it comes, confirmation is a treasure.
We have done the Flag Page Test on every member of our family. After realizing that (out of the top two “countries” you could be assigned to) four out of the five of us totally love fun country. Let’s hear it for fun country! So what do you do with this information? My husband started a Friday night tradition, joke night. Friday night was already special, reserved for my famous beans and for many around the world – the beginning of the blessed peace of Sabbath rest. To this we added joke night. Each family member gets a turn at choosing the topic and all the jokes have to align with that.
Musical terms come up a lot as topics, as do things around the house that are in sight and inspirations from the activities of the day. We thought we had a terrible topic one night – porcupine, but amazingly it was one of our most creative. Example, what did the girl porcupine say to the boy porcupine when he picked her up for a date? Wow, you look sharp tonight. The running joke in the family is the “factory joke.” Somehow no matter what the topic is, there is always a joke based on a factory. You don’t really want to know.
So what does this have to do with confirmation? My husband was doing his usual surfing various pastoral ministry sites that he visits often and he found an article about the importance of bonding time in pastoral families, and especially humor. Thousands of pastors leave the ministry each year because the burden becomes so much. This goes across the board in just about any denomination. The impact of ministry burdens on pastoral families, as you can imagine, is enough to make some kids grow up and never step foot in a church again. If you haven’t thanked your pastor lately for all the things he/she does, many of which can’t be talked about because they were spoken in confidence, take the time to do so. Pastor Appreciation Month is coming up in October. You could start planning now. It just might be the lift your pastor needs during a difficult moment.
So as Karl read to me the data on the importance of pastoral families sharing fun times together, I was grateful we had our new joke night tradition each Friday. Special family traditions aren’t limited to pastoral families. I’m pretty sure nearly every family can benefit from more moments of quality time spent together in a fun and memorable manner.
How are you bonding with your family? How are you forging memorable connections that will keep those kids coming back each Christmas for years? I hope it makes you smile.