Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Week of Encouragement

This may come as a surprise to some, but being a mom and a pastor’s wife can at times be frustrating and discouraging.  Not everything always goes as planned and sometimes things happen outside of a person’s control.  The chicken drops on the floor while you’re rushing out the door to get to a meeting.  A child calls complaining about a sibling while you’re in a prayer meeting for someone who is sick.  Yeah, mothering and pastoring aren’t always smooth sailing.

Recently, after a bout of difficult, frustrating, challenging, problematic, annoying, exasperating (well, you get the idea) situations I started crying out, whining and even demanding  God to show up with help and grace.  (Don’t worry, I know that God is not intimidated by my demands.)

I’ve often felt that God is just waiting for us to get really honest with where we are, how we feel about situations, and what’s going on deep inside our hearts.  As adults, we’re not much different from our children who act out in some troublemaking way while the real reason is that their feelings have been hurt.

God, in His gracious and tender-hearted way, heard and answered my prayers.  This week I’ve experienced daily tokens of His love and encouragements. 

Let me recount them:

Sunday:  Almost 4 hours of peace and quiet at home by myself while my family was elsewhere for the Vikings game.
Monday: A crisis of serious proportions with a computer was quickly solved by a good friend, saving us thousands of dollars.
Tuesday:  An encouraging meeting with the leadership team in which I could share some frustrations and heartaches and they listened with compassion and understanding.
Wednesday:  Someone who works with my kids at school told me that he thought they were incredible.  Does a mother’s heart wonders!
Thursday:  My lengthy breakfast-to-lunch date with my sister helped to fill my emotional tank.  Her generous birthday gift overwhelmed me.  And listening to my son be applauded after his piano performance raised that tank’s level a bit more.
Friday:  A FedEx package from my sister-in-law contained a fun and unusual gift.
Saturday:  After being gone all morning to a school board meeting, I came home to a sparkling clean kitchen bathrooms and living room prepared by my children.
Sunday:  The day’s not over …….

As I’ve recounted to myself these daily blessings, I’ve realized that God has handed me many blessings and specific gestures of love that I’ve missed.  That is probably why my “tank” go so low.  Ephesians 4: 30 talks about being “sealed with the Holy Spirit.”  God must need to do that because we leak so much.

My challenge to you:  be real with God about where you are and how you’re doing.  (You can’t fool Him; He knows anyway.) Be honest about what you really need.  Then wait.  You never know how He will choose to answer.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cutting Edge Fashion

My mother once told me, “Life is not all khaki and denim.” (I think she would have included “maternity jumpers” in that statement, but she didn’t want to offend me.) In other words, “spice up your wardrobe, honey.”

Since the advent of children and a limited income I’ve become uber-practical in my clothing purchases. If it didn’t match most of my existing pieces, I wouldn’t part with my money for it. You guessed it: my closet was boring with mostly black, navy blue, tan, burgandy and gray.

But, thanks to my sister-in-law, that’s changing. She’s put me on a new path of cutting edre fashion and high style. I’ve taken her gifts as a loving, subtle hint to get out of my proletarian rut and jazz up my life with color, pattern and the peak of today’s styles. Haute couture here I come!

Last Christmas she presented me with these hot pink and black herringbone patterned tights. Have you ever seen such a creation? I tell you, I turn heads when I wear these. The looks on peoples faces tells me how disappointed they are that they’re not the trendsetter that I am.

Her most recent gift to me was this pair of fuzzy purple/aqua/white striped legwarmers. Since my sister-in-law lives in a big city I fully trust her leading regarding what’s “hot” for the season. (Though I would have thought that legwarmers were a thing of the ‘90’s. Who am I to question?) Experimenting with them, I’m not sure how they look best. I thought I’d give them a test run at the gym tomorrow with a bulky sweatshirt and leggings.



Feel free what do you think??

Maybe not too free .....

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

No One’s Safe with Mafia

“You lie like a dog.”

”I wouldn’t believe a word he says.”

”And you say you’re a pastor?”

”Who do you want to kill?”

Not typical comments you would expect to hear at a pastor’s retreat. And yet, more (and worse) can be overheard late into the night as we gather in a large circle in the fireside room of the Chalet.

A highlight of our annual pastor’s retreat is the rousing games of Mafia that we play after the evening worship. Sometimes we play other games, but this one is my favorite. The quiet and the vocal, pastors and wives, pros and new initiates are invited, encouraged (and even coerced) to play.

Mafia is a group game invented by a psychology student from Russia in 1986. It’s a kind of role-playing murder/ mystery game. One website described it as “good for discussing topics such as lying, deception, trust, good versus evil, etc. or just for a fun time.” I’ve found that we just lie and deceive for the fun of it. A number of sites will give you some background, rules and variations for this game. (check here, and here, and here, and here.)

Briefly, this game involves assigning the parts of mafia, sheriffs, doctor and townspeople to the people sitting in a circle. Playing a number of rounds (divided into days/nights) the mafia kill off the good townspeople at night while the remaining folks investigate, accuse, and arrest their suspects. Some tender-hearted players arrest suspects; more cut-throat groups lynch them.

My favorite aspect of this game is that you get to know another side of people. As you conspire with another to kill some troublemaking townspeople, you’re drawn into an odd relationship.

Wikipedia gives a bit more history and variations of the game. Check it out. You might find a new pasttime!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's All Fun and Games ...

We like to play games at our house. Especially in the winter. When they were really little, we played a game called "Animal Lotto" over and over and over again. "Go Fish" was another favorite.
As they got older, we started some big-kid games of Scrabble, Monopoly, Life and Sequence. I remember handicapping myself with shorter words and less money in order to keep the kids in the game. Now that the kids are all older, we've had thoughtful card games, clever board games, intense strategy games and somewhat raucous word games. I have a role-play, murder mystery games that I'm "dying" to play.

This Christmas one son gave his younger siblings the game Quelf. You need to have a bit of creative energy to play this interactive game. If you don't mind possibly wearing a bib or saying silly things, I recommend it.

The older kids also enjoyed a few hands of "Hearts at Gramma's house. Less raucous but just as fun.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Christmas Gift for the Family

On the top of Faith's, Ryan's and Emma's Christmas list this year was a kitty. Earlier this fall, they had launched a campaign to convince their dad that a kitty would be a good idea for our family. We already have a 13 year old cat, Tumnus, who was born in our house. Though we love our cat,the kids wanted a little one.

I thought a kitty would be fun, but Dad was less convinced. However, after visiting a house with a fresh litter of kitties, he softened. It was actually more his idea than mine. On his return trip from picking up Megan from the airport, he stopped to pick up the cutest little black and gray tabby kitty I've seen. Fortunately for us, at 3 months old he was already litter trained and well-socialized. Though he was a barn cat, the original owners think he's part Maine Coon because of his coloring and the "M" on his forehead. (We've just discovered how huge these cats can get ... we may be in trouble!)

One of our biggest challenges was naming the kitty. We spent 3 days discussing, listing names and voting on our favorites. The kids's choices tended towards Narnia and Lord of the Rings options (with a few other literary choices thrown in.) Finally, we narrowed it down to 3: Gimli, Digory & Rilian. We sent Faith, Ryan and Emma off to another room to make the final decision. And they chose "Trumpkin."

Trumpkin has been in the family for over 2 weeks, and we're all in love. (well, everyone except Tumnus) He's really sweet and a bit on the tubby side. When you hold him, he goes limp and snuggles in like a rag doll. Like all kitties, he gets a bit rambunctious, but hasn't really been naughty or difficult. Tonight, he chased around the living room, with no particular purpose except to get from one place to another as fast as he could. Even Dad, the hardest to sell, pulls the kitty on his lap.