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First Lady Woes: Schism In The Church House 

I’m toying around with starting a blog series that speaks from the pastor wife perspective in life. Not sure if I even want do it but hey. How does the saying go? Nothing ventured, nothing gained (or loss!) Welp! Here we go! 

A friend and I was having a candid conversation (via text of course) about church family the other day. Church family is defined as those who you attend church with, those who serve alongside you in ministry. The people you engage in relationship with during Bible Study, Life Group, missions trip. You know the ones who nearly take your eye out during praise and worship with their arms raised high. The ones you give the side eye to when they are in “your seat” at church. You get the point. 

As a pastor’s wife it’s kinda an unsaid rule that whatever bad things happens in your church is either your husband’s fault or more than likely your fault. Pastor wives get a bit of bad press. But that’s for another time and book. 

So our conversation explored how the sometimes tenuous relationships that can exist among church folks and how a simple misunderstanding can send the whole church train off track. I’ve been 15 years in this pastor wife life, 32 in this church folks life, with about twenty plus years of “I stopped playing with Jesus” life.  The natural observer in me has learned a few things along the way when it comes to church folks and relationships. 

Not Everyone Is Going To Like You

I’m still looking for the verse that states that you must “like” your brother or sister in the Lord. When you find it, please holla at ya girl. People are human beings. They fail in this simplest of actions. What you wore last Sunday can send the sister behind you into a tizzy. Just because! Your random post on social media has somebody, somewhere stewing in their grits. Yet we are called to love. And love supersedes all the foolery that comes with breaking the ice and setting things straight. “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20. 

Ignore. Ignore. Ignore. 

It’s not everything that calls for a meeting with the pastor or the elders. Let people figure things out for them self. If you’re in a church where the shepherd of the house teaches the Word of God with fidelity, then the expectation is that the RETURN ON INVESTMENT will trump temporary stupidity. Sometimes people have to be broken in order for them to be repaired. I call them “sandpaper people.”  They are the ones who stay rubbing you the wrong way and you just can’t quite get past how their perfume sets your teeth on edge. I know. I’m being petty with my analogy. But years of sitting in on mediation with church members has proven that some things in life shouldn’t take up that many brain wave activity. God left the Israelites in the desert to wander for a “few years” until they could figure things out. I’m sure He didn’t want to. But sometimes people have to be allowed to experience life for themself. Just be ready to receive our sand paper sister and brother when they are ready to make things right with God. 

Jesus Understands 

There’s no other example of leadership and the pits and falls of relationship building than that of Christ and his disciples. How would you like to know years ahead that there was a backstabbing infidel in your midst?Judas. Or that walking alongside you was a dual-minded man who talked out both sides of his mouth. Peter. Or that all the “yes men” in your corner would eventually be “nah men” and take flight. Or that your team just couldn’t quite grasp the big picture of ministry. I’m sure Jesus’ meetings had more tension and drama than a church members meeting any day! Whose gonna sit next to you in Heaven Jesus! Aren’t I your favorite Jesus? Whine. Whine. Whine. 

Jesus knows. He always knew best. 

So let’s all take several seats and read 1 Corinthians 12 for the hundredth time already! Sat down somewhere (as the country folks would say) and do some soul searching. Do you bring kerosene to an already burning situation or foam to put the fire out? Are you so busy trying to find all that’s wrong with your church rather than being solution-oriented? New members are you out to eradicate church history and hard-earned DNA? Old members are you too set in your Stone Age ways to embrace change?

The Body of Christ has the opportunity of an eternity to demonstrate to a world that’s bleeding out–there is hope in Him! There’s restoration in Him! There’s all the answers in Him! 

Let’s widen our lenses a little beyond the speck in each other’s eye and get to the business of guiding souls to Christ. 

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That Ambition

“You’re an ambitious one aren’t you,” said the person who had just listened to me catch her up on some things I was up to of late. I promise you, she may have well had said I was a leper with the tone she used. Not everyone is prepared to be in the same space with someone who has visions bigger than their immediate reality.  
The folks who stand on the sidelines of your life will either cheer you on or pray for your downfall. It’s really not up to you to figure out whose who and what’s what. All you can trust is for God’s hedge of protection over your life and discernment to guide your path. 
Remember folks get real comfortable with who you are and aren’t quite prepared for who you will become. Loved ones will be guilty for projecting fear and negativity your way. Some just aren’t prepared to see you move, grow, and transform into your better self. That’s their problem. Not yours. 
There’s no box to put you in. Be ambitious. Be hungry. Be on your grind. 

Faith, Family, Grief And Loss

Permission To Live

This summer marked the first time in four years where words like doctors, medication, Cancer and death didn’t float around my mind like alphabet soup. I knew going in to these dog days of summer that it would be different this year. My mom’s passing last May meant no more case managing her life. No more phone calls sequestered in a corner at work haggling with the doctors. No more keeping two appointment books. No more dealing with the home health agency. No more pain. No more suffering. 

There will be times in your life where you get so caught up in just existing that you scarce can’t remember what breathing normal felt like. That your heartbeat’s regular pace is really not abnormal. When life’s turmoils take us for a somersault we never believe that we will bounce back. Yet eventually we do. 

And when we do, it’s always wise to take stock of where we have landed. Like change that falls out of our pockets during roller coaster rides, some things are evidently loss to us. Never to be seen again.  What’s since been lost to you? Has friendships changed? Has priorities changed? Has your mindset changed?

It was in those times of personal pain that I sought God the most. He has proved to be the only constant. He, the Rock that is higher than I, has remained steadfast. I learned to take care of me better than before. I learned to grieve honestly and personally. 

This summer was a lesson in just living in the moment. Summer concerts on the lawn. Multiple stamps on my passport. TV binging–my latest and oh so guilty pleasure. Books that turned my brain to mush or stirred my inner self. Permitting myself to live–to move on. 

It is good to give ourself permission to live. To love. To laugh again. 

Family, Love & Marriage

Happily Married

“You look like you’re happily married,” says the random dude that passes her in the shopping aisle.

Her wedding ring wasn’t readily seen.  Yet something in her demeanor, on her face, in her walk, that may have hinted at a woman in throes of marital bliss. 

Did she send out some hormonally-laced message that intimated of a sexually, emotionally and intellectually satisfied woman?  Was her casual glance his way empty and vague? As if to say “You don’t hold a lamp to my man.” Did he sniff a hint of pleasured domesticity as she carefully chooses 500 count thread sheets or that Egyptian cotton brand towel her man preferred to use? 

Could he possibly know that she was a woman who enjoyed making her house a home for her family?

She will never know. The only words she throws his way are, “I sure am HAPPILY MARRIED.” Moving on. 

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Back To School Grind

I get asked the million dollar question around this time every year. “Are you ready to be back at work with the students?” I pause. I gulp. And my response is always. “Of course I am!” As if the gnawing feeling that resides somewhere between my stomache and my heart doesn’t really exist. 

It’s always an anxious time in getting ready for another school year. If you’ve been about the business of educating young minds long enough, you know one can never be truly ready. The summer months have a way of dulling one’s senses. You go into automatic drive with routines of doing whatever random last minute thing comes to mind. And bam! Just like that it’s time to get back in the saddle again. 

This year was the first where although the kiddos weren’t in the building, I was. So I’ve been planning for 2015-2016 since the school year ended back in June.  This has been a great advantage.  Yet most educators have been home enjoying sun in the fun and life without routines. 

School employees all over this country are now either back at work or gearing to return to the privilege of working with children this fall. The responsibility doesn’t come easy. With summer months regression an issue for most students, part of the first quarter will be spent re-orienting children to academic rigor and school-wide expectations. A challenge we signed up for. A challenge all educators will strive to meet. 

On behalf of every teacher, school security guard, cafeteria worker, school social worker, school guidance counselor, administrator, and other school personnel, I thank you in advance for returning your children back to us for yet another year of learning. Here’s to another year of meaningful partnerships between schools and families. One that is centered on the overall best for each child. 

Happy New School Year!

Random Thoughts

Bossy Girl 2.0

I sat in a room packed with female Type A boss personalities the other day and nearly choked to death on the amount of Estrogen that was being emitted in the space! 

Random women, varying walks of life all describing them self as bossy, perfectionist, Type A. Lawd! I thought I was at the “I Operate in Excellence” convention. I have been used to being the”boss” in my personal and work life for so long that I never factored in the reality that there are more creatures like me out there. Women who do not take no for an answer. Women who step on hot coals to get to their destination in life. When you see your mirror image, it’s like damn! Have several seats! 

What happens when you and the other sister in the room bleed the same Type A blood? Do you turn catty and claw each other’s eyes out or do you turn and hold their hand in empathy. Living this #40IsMyReality life has come with some behavior adjustments. Notice I didn’t say attitude adjustment. Behavior is learned. Attitude is an excuse to behave badly. 

It’s taken some time and reflection to trust that my sister who enjoys a rousing debate as much as I do isn’t out for my blood. Or that when she sees things a certain way and I don’t, compromise doesn’t have to be a dirty word. 

Living in my Christ-like reality means I have learned to relinquish the imaginary crown I gave myself for the one that Jesus promises me. That crown speaks of serving others, placing others first before myself. This world says you’re a carpet when you deny yourself the right to “be right” all the time. It’s not easy just sitting on the sidelines watching train wrecks happen when you know your “know-it-all self” could have been a better conductor on the train. Sucks teeth. I could have done that hella better than her and looked good while doing it–you think. Truth is you could have. Yet being Madame or Mademoiselle Right may cost you more than you may have bargained for.

Here’s to all the Boss Chicks who don’t eat people for sport. Your character will speak volumes for this life and eternity. Here’s to the Perfectionist who understands that people are worth more as friends than as enemies. Here’s to the Type A dame who has made peace with her flaws and is working on being her better self. You will always be smart, you will always stand out, you will always be recognized. You just don’t have to be Cruella Devil while you’re being you. 

Trade in that first version of you for the Bossy Girl 2.0. 

Random Thoughts

Vacate-Tion: Destination Glorious Living 

Not everyone has the means or methods to splurge on random trips to Europe. But everyone has the opportunity to save. It is never fun to be the one left standing at the wharf waving the kerchief as yet another friend travels to sights unseen. You’re left feeling some type of way and it is usually accompanied with a side of “feeling sorry for myself.” Well it doesn’t have to be that way. Traveling is no longer just for the haves.  Let’s look at some ways to increase your vacation mileage for years to come. 

One Penny At A Time

It’s been our second cruise in as many as four years. After I learned that I could lay-away my trip, it was nothing for me to call the travel agent and set up a weekly payment plan. As long as you can divide and subtract, you should be able to set aside funds each month, week or day towards your dream trip. What now seems as a huge price tag becomes chunk size pieces that are manageable to plan for. It will mean denying thyself that new pair of shoes (gasp!) or bringing lunch instead of eating out. When you’re standing in front of yet another gorgeous buffet, dining on an island’s waterfront or slicing your knife through a tender filet mignon, the leftovers of yesteryear will be a distant memory.  

Start off Small

Sites like Groupon and Living Social have made vacations, staycations and nights out that more doable and feasible. Suddenly an Indian restaurant in the fancy-schmancy part of town doesn’t seem like an Olympic hurdle to overcome. That two for one Groupon has made your night out something to look forward to. Zagat is a great source for all things foodie. Reading reviews on the top ten brunch spots in the country led my husband and I to a hotel I wouldn’t have otherwise ventured to. For the three hours we were there, you couldn’t tell us we weren’t your random couple just here at our Miami pieds-a-terre, searching for some good sushi and mimosas on a lovely Saturday morning. Garcon! 

Can’t Take Everybody With You

Nothing sets my teeth on edge more than hearing people limit themselves in life. Granted, we aren’t all able to pick up our Vuitton bags and jet set to Aruba, but we can grab that college-worn Jansport backpack and head for a road trip to “destination your choice.”  Most of our early years in marriage was spent road tripping up the east coast. Trips to Tennessee, Indiana, Oklahoma, yes even Canada were made on four wheels. You can’t put on Norah Jones’ “Come Away With Me” without my mind’s eyes seeing the red barn as our SUV took on the mountains of Pidgeon Forge, Tennesssee. Sharing life with those who enjoy new experiences make the planning and scraping and saving that much more worth it. I have my travel buddies on speed dial. Vegas for my 40th? Done. Shopping trip in Naples, FL. Am there. Africa, Europe, the Caribbean. The atmosphere is the limit! 

Next time you see the latest trip photos on your social media feed, instead of feeling sorry for yourself–do something about it. Call your girlfriends and hatch out a master plan for making that trip to sights unseen. Commit with your spouse to set aside funds for the trip and the babysitter if need be. Want some time away alone? Make it happen Captain! Make it do what it do and pack those bags for destination Glorious Life.