Finding ourselves a Solomon

Day Five – Finding ourselves a Solomon

Dave and I are big fans of the show, The Middle. I like the idea that there are other families struggle to get it together, to care for each other and find meaning in the day, when so many tasks need to be done and life keeps coming at you full force.
Our favorite episodes have to do with the Heck family’s experiences in church. On one particular episode the mom, Frankie, was especially energized by a sermon while visiting a friend’s church. The message of the sermon left with the hearer was that we need to “Get our business done!” Frankie spends an entire episode trying to figure out what her business is and how to get it done. You can imagine why it might be comedic. Clearly, the business the preacher was imploring had to do with the message of Christ, but sometimes it’s not all that clear what that looks like in our specific place and time. This trouble can be multiplied when we are a) not in the Word regularly and b) not gathering with His people.
In Ecclesiastes 3:11, Solomon states:
“I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with.”
We all have business in this life, tasks to do, vocations to fulfill. Solomon tells us that He has seen the tasks and the toils of daily life. He’s been there and He knows  what joy and vexes come from our business. He knows that we all have different work, and in v. 12 and 13 He encourages the hearer to “do good” and “take pleasure” in their work on earth.
In fact, Luther encourages us to all to find a Solomon in our life. He tells us in His commentary on Ecclesiastes that we all need people who will exhort us, people who acknowledge our lives as they are and the meaning and God’s work in that, people who will sit with us in the day to day, people who will encourage us through our tasks, and those who will be witnesses, to not just the truth of life but help us “view (our life) with the lens of God.”
What kind of people do you have around you in your life? Who is wise and shares the God lens with you? Do you have a Solomon?
Like Frankie Heck, we all know we have some business to do, but figuring out what that is can be the challenge. What would God have us spend our time on? What is our task for the given day, for our families, and for our Kingdom work on earth?
We need people in our lives who will help us sort this out, around the Word of God, and in prayer. We need our husbands, our sisters, our churches to help us sort through and we in all of that we will find a few Solomon’s who will help us discern the God things and the good things, and the good things from God to spend our time on.

We will have an eternal impact, girls, because God is in us. His Spirit reigns in our hearts and so His legacy is not lost in the midst of our business. Change those diapers, teach that class, love that husband, turn in that paperwork. All of it we know is good, in God.
And when we feel a bit lost in all of it, sit across from your Solomon with a cup of coffee or a juice, and seek some discernment.

Getting’ our business done! He will do it, sister. He surely will do His business in us and through us.


Heart verse:
I perceived that what God does endures forever

                                                               Ecclesiastes 3:14a

Autism, #27, and inviting people in


“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
                                                                Ephesians 4:25

Session one of learn to play hockey ended last night. Not a huge deal in most people’s world, but in ours, it is. 

Zeke desperately wanted to play hockey. He watched his big brother play his heart out and imagined himself on the ice. He bought his own whistle, so that he could pretend to referee the other kids playing. He strapped on skates for an open skate and stepped out onto the ice. He tentatively took little baby ice-skating steps. He did great, so we thought, “Ok, Zeke, let’s do hockey!” We bought him the shorts, and the pads, and the stick for his birthday. 

The first night, we took out all the gear from our bag, along with the 20 or so other parents, all eagerly awaiting the unveiling of their tiny ice stars. We piled on the pads. We tightened the skates. And then it happened… Zeke walked onto the ice. I knew instantly that something was wrong. Zeke hunched himself over and skated almost like he was curled up in a ball. 

It was weird. Then it got worse. He started falling. And I don’t mean he fell a couple of times. He fell and fell and fell some more. He was clearly struggling. At one point he looked like a turtle stuck on his back.  

I heard the snickers around me. I glanced around and saw a couple of moms pointing and assumed the worst. My face flamed up. I could feel the embarrassment and then its cousin, shame, slowly creeping up my chest. I was texting with my friends, just to make it through the 50 minute lesson. 

“These women, they don’t know. How dare they laugh at Zeke!”
“There’s actual pointing going on! I’m rageful.”
“I’m just sad. Tears are rolling down my face. I wish this world was a better place for him. I just want it to be so much better.”

My friends comforted me and helped me sort through the anger, the frustration, and the shame. I realized that the equipment threw Zeke’s sensory system over the edge. The weight of a chest pad, too tight elbow pads, shin guards, and tightened skates, throw in a cold arena and slippery ice…it’s a lot for a sensory challenged kid. Looking back I was pretty impressed that Zeke wasn’t just screaming like a banchee (not an uncommon response to sensory challenges). 

I finally turned to one mom, channeled my inner Dr. Brene Brown, and made myself intensely vulnerable. I invited someone, a stranger, into my pain.

“This is so hard for me. He’s autistic. I just love him so much, but the equipment is just too much for him. And learning something new is hard. Skating is hard. He hates anything that’s hard and a struggle. Don’t we all, but it’s intense for him in a way that it probably isn’t for you or me.”

She smiled, “Look at them. They all are falling down. They all look a bit ridiculous, trying to stay standing up! It’s adorable.” In an instant my fear and anger and sadness dissipated. She pointed, not at my son, but her own, and then the myriad of skaters I failed to notice in my struggle, all trying to stay on two awkward skate blades. 

I realized that, while I do think some of the mamas could have been a bit more sensitive, I had created my own place of shame. I had wrapped myself in a blanket of embarrassment and disconnected from the reality of 30 or so little kids struggling through something new. I only saw my own little one’s pain and frustration and wanted so badly to take it away that I made up a story and pointed my rage at those around me.

And as life will, in the next moment it became supremely ironic…
I watched one coach skate over to Zeke and help him up. He dusted him off and then proceeded to spend the rest of the lesson giving him confidence, giving him props, and an arm to hold on to when he needed his bearings. The mom I was talking to pointed at the coach, “That’s my husband.” 

I said a small prayer – Thank you, God, for people, and care, and connection in this life.

Fast forward 8 weeks, hockey ended yesterday. I stood at the side of the ice with the moms. We laughed and talked about how far they have come. Little tiny skaters, falling down (much less!), getting back up, and having the time of their lives. 

I was so proud of my #27. He walked off the ice. They gave him a certificate and some pretty cool hockey cards, but I don’t think anything could mean as much as the fist bump waiting for him from that one coach. The coach who reached out and said with everything he did, “We’re in this together buddy. It’s hard work, but you can do it.”

One person, one mom, one coach. One moment made a supreme difference in my life, and in my son’s life. I’m so thankful that the Holy Spirit welled up and I was able to overcome all my assumptions and other made up stories in my head (another Brene Brown-ism).  

I could have gone through all of it, frustrated and hurt, raging at those around me, but I found truth, by inviting someone in. 

He can heal hidden hurts, bind up a broken heart, through kind and tender words, and through connection, one to another. 

For #27 and his mama, it made all the difference. 


*photo made with a vrsly overlay
*more on the stories in your head and connection in Dr. Brown’s book, Rising Strong 


My husband the preacher



“…And how will they hear without someone preaching?”
                                                                                    Romans 10:14
My Husband the Preacher
My husband was preaching Sunday on THIS day being from the Lord. This day being an opportunity to focus on Him. Each day being filled with joys and sorrows that remind us of His mercy and grace, and His love in our lives. He must have said “this day” about 50 times in his message.
The sermon wasn’t necessarily more exceptional than others, but a new thought dawned on me…
Every Sunday I go to church. Sometimes will bells on, and sometimes reluctantly, I admit. It’s a workout, with four kiddos who each need something different, need to be in different places, or who just have needs. There are a million people to see and check in on each Sunday. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the life of the church, blessed by it truly, but overwhelmed by it.
Sunday, I sat in my pew and listened to my husband’s message. The message sat in my heart and God spoke in His Word a new kind of gratefulness to me, in my vocation as pastor’s wife.
Wow! This is the day I get to hear the Word from my husband’s lips. 
How many other women get to do this, and so frequently?
Sometimes as a pastor’s wife, I feel a bit robbed of a pastor. It’s true. If I have a need, who do I call on? My husband? He’s busy with a million other needs. In addition to that, he hears with husband ears when I speak, not necessarily pastor ears- objective, grace giving, third party ears.
And it’s so easy as a pastor’s wife to feel a little left out of the flock, or to focus on the negatives of the church. We, after all, often have a behind the scenes glimpse of all the beauty and ugly that can be found in our congregations.
But what God reminded me on this day, is that I am in a small but mighty group of ladies that hear the Word of God directly spoken over them by their husband on any given Sunday. I have no doubt where my husband’s heart is. He is praying earnestly to have the message of God heard clearly by the receivers. I can gratefully be one of those participants.
Kids in the pew, needs all around, a bit of loneliness creeping in. Yes. But blessings tucked into the chaos. Oh my, yes!

THIS is the day His Word goes out. This is the day my husband gets to be the container pouring it out. This is the day I will rejoice and be glad in exactly where He has put me, and trust that every little day is part of His plan.

At home date night- Just Do It!

Romans 8:23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 
When the spies went into Canaan, they came back with a single cluster of grapes so large that they had to carry it on a pole between two of them (Numbers 13). That is a mighty fine bunch of grapes!
We also have firstfruits like none seen or experienced before, in the Holy Spirit. The Spirit in us creates real and vibrant faith, the Spirit comforts us in our weaknesses, the Spirit wells up in us to go and to do His work in the Kingdom. All of which we could never do without the Spirit.
Matthew Henry states in his commentary on the New Testament that
“We, having received such clusters in this wilderness, cannot but long for the full vintage in the heavenly Canaan.”
One of our favorite at home date nights is two wine glasses of red wine, a tiny square of dark chocolate, and some British TV. While this may not be your ideal date night, you can appreciate the idea of relaxing and feeling satisfied in the presence of one another and in His bounty. Date night isn’t just valuable because it’s fun or a break, but it’s valuable because it give us a chance to sit together as one flesh and take a breath and recognize the Spirit working in our lives and moving in our marriage. Our marriage growing is the mirror for the bride growing more and more into the head, which is Christ. Therefore date night isn’t just an extra to be tacked on when we have time, it is the very work of the church.

The table of the Eucharist also beckons us to partake in His fruits in a very real way. It unites us with Him and one another. It gives us a foretaste, and we long for that full vintage found in the New Creation. In longing, we also have assurance, the Spirit is working, growing us, and growing the church. We wait eagerly for the feast. We hunger for it, and for Him, and we will be filled.


*I’d love to see pictures or hear about your at home date night! Tell me about it in the comments or send a picture to deaconessheidi@graceplacewellness.org and I’ll share it in blogs to come. 🙂

Heart and soul…or Bring me a friend, Lord!

“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”                                                                         
                                                          1 Samuel 14:7
   This verse came up in my Bible study this week, in the beautiful story of Jonathan’s faithfulness, trusting in God’s intervention in his life. The author really wanted me to get a specific idea from the Scripture passage – trust and listen, God intervenes. It’s a good message and completely Biblical. However, it’s not the one I heard. 
   
    The whole time I was reading this passage, the last part of this verse played like a loop in my mind. 
      “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.
And in my pastor’s wife heart the old longing sat, calling out to God….
       “I just want a friend. One single friend.”
This is what we all want, isn’t it? I mean, all of us on this round planet, searching for someone to understand us and love us “heart and soul.” This isn’t a romantic verse. It’s a verse about going into battle…together. It’s not about our husband’s being our soul mates. It’s helpful to remember that God is always enough, but this verse shows us that God is not only enough of a friend, but He’s a friend that cares. He values people and relationships in our lives and works through them. 
 
    Time and time again I hear pastor’s wives tell me, I just want one friend. Someone who sees me for who I really am, who’ll invite me places, and most importantly invite me into their life and want to join in mine. Friends who reside in the tri-state area, not spread hither and yon by clergy life.
 
    When we first moved to our call, I thought that friend would never come and then… I went to library story time. Weird, but true. I meet Lani, who was also looking for a friend. She was willing to open her heart and her time for me and what a difference it made! Lani moved away, 2 short years after we met. (Tears.) But her gift to me was that gift of the armor-bearer of Jonathan – 

“Do all that you have in mind…I am with you, heart and soul.” 
Lani opened her heart, so that I can open mine now to others. I can make myself vulnerable and risk all the yucky rejection, because she was willing to be my armor-bearer, my first friend in a strange new place, giving me strength in the battle against isolation and loneliness.
 
Do you long for a good friend? 
Can you be that friend for a pastor’s wife? Not just saying hi on Sundays and praying for her family, but inviting her in?
 
God is surely enough, but He also surely cares about the very desires of our heart, including bringing you a friend. Lift it up to Him, sister. He hears. He doesn’t just give us the armor, but He gives us people to bear the armor with. It might be His timing, but He has a friend in mind.