Please see me for me

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

                                            Galatians 2:20
 
I am relatively new to the cell phone world. It’s not that I’m a hermit and never knew about them, it’s just that I didn’t own one for years. I semi-shared with my husband because of the cost factor of an extra phone. I stole his when I went on a trip or was “in the city” for the day. Then, I got the awesome opportunity to be his secretary (note the sarcasm), taking messages right and left. So, as a tiny bit of extra income came in, we made the jump to being a two cell phone family. 
 
Yesterday, I realized I put people in my contacts by who they are to me, not necessarily their proper name. My sister is in there according to her childhood nickname and favorite affectionate title from my kids “Ney-Ney”. My friend Jen is “Jen, Mark’s Love.” (We love her too!) Another friend is in there as “Jaime College.” Obviously these aren’t the only dimensions I see of these people, but they are my primary goggles I evidentially identify people by without even thinking. 
 
So, a few weeks ago when I went to put my friend Emily in, I found myself contemplating what to put her in under. Her husband is a vicar and we met through a circuit picnic, so it was really tempting to put her in as “Emily Vicar’s Wife.” But would I want someone to identify me like that? No. I wouldn’t. Somewhere deep down, while I love being the “Pastor’s Wife”, I desperately want people to see me as something else, something more, something deeper. 
 
Being a pastor’s wife is deeply fulfilling. It’s wonderful and scary, and frustrating, and special all at the same time. But it’s not WHO I AM. It’s a role I serve, a vocation even. I love being a pastor’s wife. I love being your pastor’s wife. But please see me for all of me. See me as a mom, a deaconess, a social worker, a great conversationalist, a person with a serious problem with being on time, a not so great driver, but a person with passion and exuberance. 
 
But where is my real identity? It’s not actually in any of that. I pray that when you see me, you see Christ. Because that’s the real and true Biblical truth- I am Christ living in me. That is me.
 
What do you wish people saw in you, or do you wish they saw if they looked beyond the title pastor’s wife? I’m sure one thing they see is Christ. That is what we live for, sisters. This life I live, I live not just in service to Him, but as His body on earth. He lives in me and shines in me, and I am a little less me every day and a little more Him, which is a good thing.
 
All that said, when you go to put your pastor’s wife in your phone, put her in as Sue She Who Rocks a Cheesecake or Mary She’s Super Thoughtful, or even better Elizabeth My Friend.
 
And if you want, you can put my name in your phone as Heidi Crucified with Christ. I take it as a great complement. 

Jen and I – She is a beautiful and precious pastor’s wife-to-be. 

Smelly, sweaty prayers

 

 

May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.                                                  Psalm 141:2

In our house, one of my favorite things to spot is this giant bag sitting in front of my washing machine. It’s black and red and huge! I lean down and slowly unzip the zipper and wait for the smell. What wafts up at me? 

Sweaty, smelly, little boy scent.

I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for that smell. I’ll wash those gross hockey sweat infested clothes for years on end, if he’ll let me. To me that scent represents so much more than just a gross boy who needs a shower. It smells like hard work, determination, commitment, and doing something with your whole heart, something he loves, and in which he finds unadulterated joy. 

Now, I’m not sports obsessed. Nor am I a laundry slave to my 10 year old. 🙂 But here’s the connection-

I think that God is a little like me opening the sweaty smelly laundry bag, when we offer our prayers up to Him. Lately God has gotten not just my prayers, but my blotchy, red face, heart’s cry prayers. He’s gotten my bottom of the pit, arms raised, seeking rescue prayers. He’s gotten my broken heart, life crashing down around me prayers. He’s gotten my frightened small voice in the middle of the night prayers. 

It gives me comfort to know that, to Him, these prayers are a beautiful thing, like incense rising before Him…the sweet, sweaty smell of my precious, difficult, sojourning life on this planet. He collects my tears in an bottle. He calls my struggle “good”, when I can not. Then He turns it into something better than good.

Sister, what sweaty work have you been doing? What determined struggle do you see in your own life? From parenting wee ones and big ones, slogging through the work of grief, finding two more dollars to be able to make the utility bills, caregiving for a beloved aged member of the congregation, serving in a role that you don’t love, to loving those who seem unlovable. That’s all sweaty work. 

And He loves our sweaty prayers. 
jojo goalie

*Here’s my sweaty, smelly, precious hockey player. He’s equally embarrassed and loves it when I pray over him before each hockey game. 🙂 



On being a PK…

Fathers do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.                     

                                              Colossians 3:21

This August we were driving “down south” to visit my husband’s sister and her family for a much needed family vacation. The drive was lengthy and we had already gone through all our books on CD so we cranked up the volume on some local Christian radio. Between every song advertisements for a special conference came up over and over again. We heard them for the whole week we were there, and I tell you, I could recite them by heart. This conference was important for someone. Near the end of the week it struck me that the conference wasn’t for adults, but was for pastor’s kids still in the home. I turned to my daughter (age 12) and said, “Wow, a whole conference just for pastor’s kids! Is that really necessary?” (Forgive my ridiculousness for 3 minutes and hear me out…)
 
My sweet daughter was oddly quiet. I looked back at her from my seat next to my husband. “Do you think of yourself as a pastor’s kid?” 
 
In my mind, Macee was just like any other kid. Bright, fun, beginning to get past the grouchy stage of early adolescence…beautiful. Child of God. Redeemed, transformed, made new. The only thing different between her and another child of God, in my thoughts, was that she was tall for her age and had a special gift for loving on any person, of any age, at any time. 
 
But that doesn’t answer the question does it, for Macee. “Do you think of yourself as a pastor’s kid?” From the backseat came the small answer,
           “Everyday, Mom. Everyday.”
 
As I sat back and contemplated her response and my apparent lack of understanding of the life of a PK (never being one myself), I recalled a different conversation in our house three years prior. My daughter, broken hearted, needing a friend, feeling unloved and unworthy came to me in tears, “People just think we’re weird, Mom. Everyone thinks we’re different.”
 
At the time I thought that conversation was just about us. Just about our family’s zest for individuality and zeal for uniqueness. At that moment I realized, it’s not about me, it’s not about our family, it’s about the church and that weird place we put church work families. “What?!” you say, “What place? I don’t put anyone in a place?” But you see, we do. 
 
Just as the verse above says, Fathers, don’t provoke your children. Don’t raise the bar for them. Don’t expect more of them. Don’t assume you know them, because they are your child. So, this verse is fitting for the church, because really, that is where my child, under no choice of her own, is growing up. Church, don’t provoke your children. Just as you love your pastor, love his children. Don’t raise the bar for them. Don’t expect more of them. Don’t assume you know them, until you spend time getting to know them individually. They are each beautiful and precious, and unique. Their love for Jesus comes not just from the home they’re raised in, but the church that raises them. Don’t love them for who you think they should be, love them for who they are. The verse promises what will come when we set the bar too high for our pastor’s children (whether in our own home as pastor’s families, or in the context of the church)…discouragement. Almost every single translation uses this same word- discouragement. 
 
What does the discouragement of a PK look like? It’s different for every child, obviously, but I think that it’s the cracks, the fissures of faith that begin innocently that are most concerning. The PK who simply can not sit in a pew contentedly for the ants in their pants, and is scolded by more than their mother. The PK who is frustrated with being the acolyte for the 84th Sunday in a row because they are the only ones who show up. The PK who is afraid to tell someone they struggle with their body image, because it’s just more stress for mom or dad, who is helping everyone else. The PK who hears the words people say about their Dad and has no where to go with them. 
 
How do we create churches who love and uplift their PKs? Love and uplift them…as individuals! Celebrate their unique gifts and do not give them more than there fair share, simply because they show up. Notice who they are, not in relation to who is their parent, but in relation to who God made them to be. This is how our children learn that the church is a place to grow and be loved and desire to stay there and flourish. 
 
May we take a step back and be an encouragement rather than a discouragement. I take numerous steps and build all kinds of boundaries to protect my children from the life of growing up PK; to help them love Jesus and love the church, not because I do, but because they have the Spirit of the Living God inside them. Foolishly I thought I could do this alone. My daughter reminded me I could not. I need the church to do this with me, to see with me how precious she is as herself, and herself alone. 
 

*No Macees were harmed in the writing of this blog post. All Macees were asked permission to share their stories with the world at large. 🙂

God of even this…

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 
                                                 Genesis 21:17
 
This last week has been pretty miserable. Like anyone in crisis, I feel like most of what I do is wait. Wait for an answer, wait for help, wait for things to get better…and…nothing.
   
Well, not nothing, obviously not nothing. But what feels like a void of unchanging hopelessness. I’m sure some of you have been there. I also know that some of you are standing on the other side. Some of you have shared your stories with me, of God working, of moving from hopeless to hopeful, of trust in God and Jesus’s time, healing the deep places of your heart.
   
Here we meet Hagar. She seems like a pawn in someone else’s game. She is sent away with a skin of water and a loaf of bread. She sits away from the bush, unwilling to watch her son die. Here is hopelessness at its best. 
   
But El Roi answers. “The God who sees…”
   
He sees her pain. He sees her struggle. He sees her hunger. He sees her aching heart. I need to know that. I need to know that God sees me.
   
And so He shows me. 
   
I had a friend cry with me yesterday. Cry. Audibly. I have rarely felt so loved. 
   
I had a friend tell me that he finally understood what Paul meant when he said he was suffering for another person. He felt my pain, our pain, as his own.
   
My sisters have told me countless times that they would lift my burden if there was any possible way they could. 
 
I am not just given a loaf of bread and a skin of water, but meals come, food is served, and sometimes I don’t even know where it came from. 
   
There are prayers said, sometimes in the wee hours of night, on our behalf.
   
This is one reason why God created the Church. This is the visible Church lifting up our arms, when we ourselves can not. This is the visible Church, wrapping their arms around me and letting me cry. This is the visible Church seeing through the compassionate lens of a Savior who came to redeem our crisises and heal our broken hearts.  

This is a God who sees me, through you. 

  
He sees each of us, beautiful sisters. It is His name. And He can not deny who He is. Whatever our pain, whatever our joy, whatever our struggle.
El Roi…He sees me. He sees my sweet, sweet husband. He sees, and that is my Hope each day.

 



 

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.