Friday, November 18, 2011

Attitude Adjustment

I admit it.  I am a second guesser.  I over-think everything.  I cannot make a decision to save my life.  So true to form, I was talking with my husband (the recovering pastor) about a decision we had made which I was second guessing.  Was it the right one?  Was it the best for our kids?  Did we give the other choices a fair shake?  Finally he stopped me and said that I just needed to be settled.  We are employed, released from ministry, in a good church, have friends, our family is happy.  I need to just trust - not wish for what was or what could be - but just be grateful for what we have and what the Lord has done.

He is right.  I am not sure why I feel that way sometimes.  Then it hit me.  For the last 20 years we have been in the position of always needing to strive for the next thing - never really being able to just sit and be content or happy with where we were or where the church was.  There was always something - the next sermon series, the next program, the 'now that we have this, how do we get to this',  the 'this didn't work, let's figure out why and correct it'.  There was always something.

So here we are.  The Lord has hugely and amazingly shown up - and we are able to just sit and rest - and be content and grateful. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lessons from Felicity

OK, a while ago I was perusing Netflix wanting something to watch.  Because clearly there is nothing else to do around my house.  And clearly I needed something else to occupy my time.  But I digress.  Back to Netflix.  Cruising through, and I come upon Felicity.  Surely ya'll remember that show.  1990's, girl goes to NYU to chase after a boy who doesn't even know her.  Falls in love with R.A., falls out of love with R.A., falls in love with boys she chased after, breaks up, gets back together, breaks up, gets back together, all the while still really in love with the R.A. from freshman year, but refuses to acknowledge it.  You get the picture.  All of this spans the 4 years of college.  Currently I am at the end of season 3, which is obviously the end of her junior year.  Basically this is a fluff show.  There is no real substance, although they do try their best to write episodes about relevant current events, which all turn out for the best.  Just like in real life. :)  Hmmm, still digressing.  Back to the end of junior year.  The R.A. is about to move to Seattle, and Felicity and the boy she chased after are going to spend the summer together.  Felicity is having trouble with the fact that the R.A. is moving away, and is trying to distance himself from her.  So Felicity goes to see her school counselor.  Because in a student population the size of NYU, appointments with school officials are abundant.  So Felicity is talking through her relationship with the R.A., and this argument she had with said R.A., and how she was appalled that the R.A. told her she was being selfish by wanting to stay in his life while dating the boy.  The counselor simply says, OK.  Which leads Felicity to ask why.  (I promise, I am getting to my point)  (Wait for it, wait for it...)  So the counselor talks her through the stages of grief, and how each situation she is talking about is a stage.

So immediately I start thinking about a decision I am having trouble making.  To most it would not be a huge decision, but for some reason, I cannot decide, or put my finger on why.  Until Felicity today.  It's the stages of grief in leaving the church.  Even though it was our decision.  Grief.  First is shock and denial.  Check.  Got that covered, knew it when I went through it. Felicity can't believe that her friendship with R.A. is over. Second is pain and guilt.  Check.  This one passed quickly, there wasn't much, as we had prayed and sought the Lord.  We knew we were released. Felicity feels like she betrayed R.A. for boy.  Third is anger and bargaining.  This I think will continue on.  I can't imagine that there is a definite ending to this.  Felicity gave R.A. a long sought after book he had been wanting, as a plea to stay in his life, so when he moved, she would still be in his mind when he looked at the book.  For me, I am involved in a situation that keeps me wavering between 2 worlds.  There is some pain involved, it brings dissatisfaction, a longing for what was, but never really was.  (Why is it when we look back at situations, things are always better in our minds than they ever really were?)  Anyway,  I think I am having difficulty making that decision because I don't want to be forgotten.  I don't want to not be the lives of the ones involved.

But would I be better off if I wasn't in the situation?  Would I be better able to heal if there were some definite boundaries, space?  Am I bargaining, begging if you will, for just a little satisfaction in a situation where I know there will be none?  Somehow I want to still have a  presence in a  world that is not mine.  I need to be able to move on, to do it on my terms, for the benefit of my family.  A clean break.  So I know the decision that needs to be made.  I don't really want to make it, and I wish it could be different, but in order to move on to the better side of grieving, I am going to have to.

But first, maybe I'll watch the beginning of the next season of Felicity, her senior year. Perhaps there is some wisdom she gets over the summer.  And because you just can't not watch a show where one of the lines is "Do you think we are living in the dark ages?  Like the 80's?"

Saturday, November 5, 2011


Recently I read a quote from Priscilla Shirer.  It is from her book The Resolution for Women.  It hit me square in the eye.  You see, contentment is something I have struggled with for a while.  Let me back up and give a little history.  When we were pastors, it seemed there was always something greater to strive for, always something to go after or achieve after reaching the current achievement.  In the church, especially in leadership, it is difficult to have contentment, which is sad.  I don't believe that is what Christ wanted for the church.  I don't believe He wanted there to be this need for numbers, this desire for the best programming, this quest for acceptance, the question of whether we were "good enough."  So, back to the quote.  Here it is:

"Contentment is the equilibrium between the enjoyment of life now and the anticipation of what is to come. Contentment serves as a guard against desires gone wild. It is the key to unlock you from the bondage of unrestrained longing that wells up within your heart and inevitably begins to control your life, making you a slave to what you don't have instead of a fully engaged participant with what you do.

By choosing contentment, you're not getting rid of your desires; you're just demanding they assume an appropriate, humble position in your life, not bossing you around like a tyrannical dictator forcing you to submit to his ever-growing and ever-changing list of demands."

 Read that line again.  Discontentment makes you a slave to what you DON'T have instead of a fully engage participant with what you DO. 

See, in this new life we have been experiencing since the end of August, we immediately found contentment.  We chose to trust that the choice we made in walking away was what the Lord wanted.  We deeply felt that He was saying to us, "You have tried enough.  You have done enough.  Walk away and shake the dust off of your feet.  You are released, and I have you in the palm of My hand."  So we leapt.  Was it scary at times?  Yes, but we make the conscious choice to trust.  Was I prone to worry and be anxious?  Yes, but I made the conscious choice to trust.   Did we get discouraged?  Yes, but we made the conscious choice to trust.  We taught our children more about trust and the faithfulness of God in that month of unemployment that we would have in a lifetime of being a pastor's family.  

We have learned to be fully engaged and aware of the blessings from the Lord.  We look at each day and live wholly in what it has to offer.  We are incredibly a better family.  We are content that my husband is employed.  Is the salary anywhere near what he was making as a pastor?  Nope.  But it is enough.  Does he have the flexibility that he had as a pastor?  Nope.  But we are way more conscious of how we spend our evenings and weekends together than we did before.   Instead of going to church, wondering why attendance is what it is, or why this person didn't speak, instead of submitting ourselves to "ever growing and ever changing sets of demands," we are attending church, worshiping the Lord with no boundaries.

Contentment has been a great thing to discover.  May we never go back to that place of not being able to recognize what we have been given.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Today I turn 40.  So far, it feels good.  It's like turning over to a brand new page in a journal.  Clean, fresh, unwritten, open for new opportunities.  It seems appropriate that I would turn a brand new decade as we are entering a brand new season of life.  A season that is clean, fresh, unwritten, open for new opportunities.  After 20 years in ministry, we are done.  We are no longer a pastor's family.  My husband now has a regular job, my kids are regular kids, we are attending a church, finding our place, figuring out who we are, who we want to be.  We are literally discovering a new life in Christ. 

We are discovering that we can potentially be better Christians by just being Christians and not being in leadership.  We are discovering that our family is better for the change. We are discovering that we are better for the change.  We have learned that the battle is not ours to fight, and the Lord is our defender.  We have learned that sometimes you have to let go of what you have so that you can embrace something brand new.  We have purposed that we will be the supporters of our pastor and his family that we always wished we had.  We are discovering the hope of tomorrow. 

So today I turn 40, and begin blogging about this new life we have.  Some days will be insightful, some days will be funny, some days will be stories of things to which we are adjusting, but all days will point to the glory of the Lord and the new thing He is doing in our lives.   My favorite verse through this transition time has been Isaiah 57:16:  I live in the high and lowly places, but also with the low-spirited, the spirit crushed.  And what I do is put new spirit in them, get them up and on their feet again.  So thankful for that!!