Things A Pastor’s Wife Won’t Tell You (But WANTS To…)

24 07 2014

I don’t blog as much as I’d like to.

The majority of my infrequent blogging has to do with the fact that A) I’m really busy and B) I have a problem with saying “no” to the things that keep me busy.

I also can’t forget C) I hate living in a house that isn’t vacuumed multiple times a week (see “B”).

But frankly, a big factor in my blogging is the fact that I’m under a microscope as a church worker and pastor’s wife. That means every single thing I write is scrutinized. Often, by thousands of people.

But every once in a while, I get an uncontrollable rebellious streak. Like now.

As a fairly young pastor’s wife, I’ve not yet grown that thick shell of impervious battle armor that all pastor’s wives seem to possess. I still find myself laughing over things that probably won’t even register when I’m a hardened, turtle-like character in a few decades.

So in my formative state, I feel compelled to make note of the many things a pastor’s wife won’t tell you…but WANTS to.Pastor

I don’t dress him.

It may be difficult to believe that a grown man who survived graduate school can successfully pick out his clothes, but it is true.

And no, if we happen to be wearing the same color on Sunday morning, it’s merely coincidence. Only a crazy person (or someone trapped in a family photo, circa 1993) would ever dress to match their spouse.

I’m not a messaging system. 

There’s this incredible new invention out there called “technology”. It’s amazing, really.

You can get on a tiny computer in the palm of your hand and type on a teensie keyboard to send messages a whole variety of ways. Seriously, you should try it. It’s the latest thing. You can even record your voice and leave a message in your own words.

Really. Try it. I’m not a reliable courier system, anyway. And I’m sure as heck not getting paid to take notes as my husband’s administrative assistant.

I have an automatic role in VBS, no matter what.

I’ll never be able to escape some sort of leadership role in yearly Vacation Bible School. I know that even if I’m crippled and struck blind at the same time I’m attempting to adopt twelve kids from an orphanage and tenderly nurse a baby bird back to health, you’ll still pester me to take on something.

It’s just one of the laws of pastor’s wifedom.

I don’t know what he’s going to say about me in sermons. 

Yeah, I’m hearing it for the first time, too.

No, I don’t know what embarrassing or bizarre real-life story he’s using about me until he says it. Yes, the blushing is authentic. Yes, I do indeed color-code my closet, and I’m glad the entire congregation now knows about it.

I don’t know everyone’s names, let alone their gossip. 

Everyone knows me, but I don’t always know everyone else. It’s challenging to try to learn a zillion names and facts about a congregation. I’m accosted with new stories by the dozens every Sunday, so forgive me if my brain shuts down and I can’t remember what day you took your dog to the vet last week. I really do care. Unless it’s gossip–then I’m already disinterested.

I’m the designated pinch-hitter when everything goes wrong. 

Communion team forgot to show up? I’m in the back, pouring wine into tiny cups. Sunday school teacher late? I’m already halfway through the lesson. Sound system or lights malfunctioning? I’m the first one up to deal with it. Building leaking? I’m dragging out the buckets. New guest arrives? I’m introducing myself and making small talk. Bulletin board needs updating? I’m already drawing. Disgusting disaster in the bathroom? I’m the makeshift janitor. Ushers absent? I’m handing out bulletins and lighting candles. Dessert reception? I’m wiping off tables and serving up pie.

Before you complain about church, realize that I’ve already done your job before. Quietly and thanklessly. If I can do it with a smile and make the best of things, you certainly can, too.

I can hear you when you talk about the pastor.

It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting five rows behind me, or on the other side of the church. I have supersonic hearing when it comes to hearing any phrase that involves the word “pastor”.

I hate when people judge me by what I wear. 

I’m not a nun, I happen to like fashion, and I actually have eyeballs. No, I don’t judge you by what you wear to worship–so kindly don’t return the favor for me.

You don’t have to point out the obvious about either my husband or me.

Sunburned? Yes. We’re human and went to the beach. We are already aware and don’t need your loud guffaws to inform the entire church.

Oh, and you can entirely abolish the phrase, “My, you look tired” from your vocabulary when you’re talking to me.

I know, I’m making it easy for you.

The phrase “poor as church mice” is accurate. 

Most pastors are barely scraping by and their congregations are largely clueless to the immense financial toll that years of school and a low-paying salary give you.

Basically, we broke as a joke.

We prefer not to dwell on it, and make every effort to be faithful stewards–but I sure can’t tell you what a delightful treat it is to receive something as simple as a gift card for coffee. It also has the added benefit of helping you never say, “My, you look tired” to me in the morning.

We love the church more than you know. 

I’ve met my fair share of pastors’ wives who are angry and disillusioned with their churches, but I don’t feel that way. Despite frustrations, I know that tension is a natural part of ministry and I welcome it because it means we’re growing. We’re tirelessly supporting our churches, and will do whatever it takes to contribute.

Yeah, yeah, even cleaning the bathrooms. Been there, done that. More than once.

I have an opinion of my own. 

Despite what you may assume, I have a brain entirely of my own. I have my own opinions, talents, passions, and ambitions.

Someone once told me that, as a pastor’s wife, I should “never open my mouth about anything, ever.”

That’s ridiculous. How could I possibly take communion?

I don’t buy it. As a pastor’s wife, I’ll open my mouth about what matters–and what matters to me, more than anything, is my Savior.

And despite however critical someone may choose to be, the fact remains that I’m a sinful human who’s been redeemed–just like everyone else. So when I get my rebellious streaks and spout off about the challenges of being a pastor’s wife, you just softly smile and respond as every good Lutheran does:

“Oh, I’ll pray for you.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





REAL Holy Week…As Told Honestly by Your Pastor & DCE.

26 04 2013

Get enough complaints about not blogging, and guess what?

You get back into it pretty quick.

Suffice it to say it’s been an extremely busy couple of months for me. I’d bore even myself trying to recount everything that’s been going on, so I’ll stick to one humorous reality I faced for the first time this year: Holy Week with as a church work duo.

We’re both church workers at the same church this year, for the first time–my husband as a pastor, and me as a Director of Christian Education.

What does this mean during the average week? We’re co-workers, and live and breathe church at work and at home. In fact, if we didn’t have two dogs to care for, we might occasionally forget we have a home away from church.

It also means we’re pretty well-prepared in jumping in to do mostly anything at church. Watering flowers? Rearranging furniture? Running registration tables? Creating dessert trays? Dusting shelves? Running screens? Organizing files? Trimming poinsettias? Making coffee? Guiding campus tours? Cleaning bathrooms? Serving meals? Leading chapel? Making hospital visits? Writing or leading devotions, lessons, or Bible studies at a moment’s notice? We got it covered, no sweat.

Holy Week, however, is a different beast entirely.

What might seem like a cheerful holiday for most–yellow bunnies! pink marshmallows! foil-wrapped chocolate!–is nothing short of laborious torture for those of us in church work.

Picture this: seven church services in eight days.

That means bulletins, flowers, communion set up, musicians, announcement slides, song lyrics, lights, candles, service order, sermons, readings, ushers, banners and paraments, food and coffee–times SEVEN.

This year, my husband and I started a new tradition to commemorate our first year in church work–our Real Holy Week picture diary, capturing how we felt at the end of each day. And rest assured, friends, those were some long days we worked–along with our dedicated staff–to prepare for Holy Week 2013.

So here’s a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes in the lives of two brave church workers during Holy Week:Photo 1

Day 1 (Palm Sunday)

Cassie: Optimistic

Tyler: God save us…(We’re Gonna Need It)

Day 2 (Monday)

Cassie: Seriously? It’s only Monday?!

Tyler: The calm before the storm…

Day 3 (Tuesday)

Cassie: And we thought tax season was stressful…

Tyler: Kickin’ it into high gear!

Day 4 (Wednesday)

Cassie: I just got home…it’s MIDNIGHT…but holy cow, I love my church!

Tyler: Zzzzz……

Photo 2

Day 5 (Maundy Thursday)

Cassie: Holy  Guacamole!

Tyler: Bringin’ it, Maundy style!

Day 6 (Good Friday)

Cassie: I love the most depressing service of the year!

Tyler: And He saw that it was GOOD.

Day 7 (Saturday)

Cassie: I. am. so. tired.

Tyler: This. Is. It.

Day 8 (Easter Sunday)

Cassie: Hallelujah! We survived Holy Week 2013!

Tyler: Thank you God!

And now….you know the real story behind Holy Week.

Next time you ask us why we look tired after Easter, you’ll know exactly why.





The #1 Sin of Church Workers?

27 05 2011

I know, you haven’t heard from me in a while. I’ve been busy.

This whole spring-rolling-into-summer-rolling-into-summer-camps-and-VBS-and-mission-trips-and-confirmation-stuff thing is pretty much the most chaotic time of year for those of us in youth ministry.

But trust me, things haven’t slowed down in my mind at all, even though I’ve neglected my blog here in the last month.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about ministry and what sort of legacy I want to encourage my youth to have in their own lives. I happen to have a couple of kids who aspire to be in ministry someday, so I’ve been pondering what the most important bit of wisdom I could possibly impart on them could be, in view of this long-term goal.

After a lot of careful thought, I think it comes down to this single shred of wisdom:

Remain humble.

It seems so simple. Anticlimactic, almost.

Yet I think that the sins of pride and arrogance are the ones that cripple church workers the most.

The very nature of a pride issue cuts one off from being teachable or moldable. From ever admitting wrongness or failure. From sharing the credit with others. From truly connecting with other people. From ever apologizing. From rolling up the shirtsleeves and doing the gritty, hard work that’s required—because, after all, it’s beneath you or it’s not your thing.

Pride makes it impossible to try someone else’s idea. It isolates from being open to God’s promptings. It makes it difficult to work with others. It prevents others from coming to you—because who wants to confide in or seek counsel from someone who sneers down their nose at you?

Most shamefully, arrogance can lead us off of the real path of God’s work and instead focus our eyes inward, on our own kingdoms, accomplishments, and successes—whether actual or merely perceived.

By the very nature of the problem, it’s impossible to try to convince someone that they do have a pride issue. Anyone who offers an honest opinion, a helpful remark, or even a harsh criticism is brushed off by those who think they know better than anyone else.

Pride says that people are just bodies to control. Pride whispers falsity. Pride dominates and boasts and refuses to actually care about anyone but itself.

I definitely know that there are incredible, humble, servant-hearted people out there. I thank God for those people—they are the salt of the earth. I have many of them in my ministry, and I absolutely couldn’t function without their constant encouragement, love, and care for others.

But lately, I’ve realized more and more that pride is a stronghold for many in the ministry. Pastors, youth workers, students across the board seem to struggle with being possessed with an arrogance problem.

In fact, in my opinion, pride is the number one sin that has a grip on those in the ministry.

Is it possible to start out with the purest of intentions, and become something that does a disservice to our loving Savior?

Absolutely.

Which is why we must constantly be on guard with our actions, and aware of what we’re allowing into our hearts. We must regularly and honestly evaluate ourselves, and ask those we trust to evaluate us. Sin can—and does—swallow us whole, without us being aware that it’s happening. And only our ever-patient, ever-loving, ever-forgiving Savior can help us guard our hearts and minds from this deceit.

Jesus had the harshest criticisms for the Pharisees, the teachers of the Law. When I was younger, I didn’t understand that. Now that I work in a church, I completely understand. As people charged with the task of sharing Christ with others—with leading and teaching and exhorting—we should be the biggest proponents of humility.

Instead, it’s the trap that Satan has carefully laid for those in the ministry—and he has snared many in its deadly clutches.

When I was in college, I was a resident assistant for two years. During our month-long training in the summer before school started, we were asked to help prepare the school for the arrival of students by cleaning the dorms. On a skin-searingly hot summer day, we spent ten hours scrubbing mold from refrigerators, plunging toilets, mopping floors, painting hot metal railings, moving back-breaking piles of mulch, and repainting parking lines in the student lot.

As I stood with a gallon of bleach in one hand and a brush in the other, panting in the heat, I kept looking over at our directors. Although they were the loudest cheerleaders for doing this service project, they had been sitting all day in the shade, sipping their ice waters. They didn’t do a thing the entire day—in other words, their talk didn’t even come close to matching their walk.

And when we had finished up what later became known as “Slave Labor Day”, they were the ones to receive the accolades from the university for working so hard.

Their arrogant pride ultimately turned an entire staff of student leaders against them, in pure disgust. And no amount of team building or pep talks could ever restore the respect that was lost in one day.

If that can happen, I shudder to think how many people we’re turning off from Christianity because of our pride issues.

People’s eternal lives are being impacted.

All of those people in the world that shout “hypocrites” to us? I get it.

Pride. It’s a dangerous pitfall—and that’s why I tell my student leaders over and over and over again that they must remain humble.

I recently saw a quote online that said, “We’re called to be fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium.” I’ve found myself repeating that constantly.

He didn’t call me to lord over a church.

He didn’t call me to put myself up on a platform.

He didn’t call me to consider myself better than the rest of my synod, other churches, my staff, or the students and families I work with.

God didn’t call me to be a keeper of the aquarium, but to be a fisher of men.





Yes, I’m Married…to Satan.

26 04 2011

I don’t think too many women have uttered the phrase, “Honey, why don’t you go take off your makeup and we’ll go get some dinner” to their husbands.

But I have.

You see, I’m married to Satan.

No, really. I am.

At least, I’m married to the actor who portrayed the devil in our church’s Good Friday drama just a few days ago.

Tyler had been practicing a lengthy and intense monologue featuring Satan interrupting a somber worship service over and over again, which made for an incredibly powerful experience that I don’t think a single person who witnessed it will ever forget.

It’s hard to even describe it—other than to tell you to imagine what it would be like if the devil stood in the midst of the congregation, maniacally screaming, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” as lightning lit up a dark sanctuary and thunder rattled the building.

Yes. Chilling.

But my goodness, let me tell you—being married to Satan is quite an interesting experience.

For one, I spent weeks listening to Tyler perfecting the mocking, sneering voice that he used throughout the drama. Setting the table for dinner and overhearing, “Why don’t you come down from that cross if you can, Jesus” from the other room is just a little disconcerting.

And then there was the costume selection. An endless question of “Does this look evil enough?”

We settled on a lovely blood-red silk dress shirt—Bugatchi, if you’re a fashionista like me—and a silk vest paired with black slacks and a black tie. As my father quipped, “The devil wears Prada.”

What a lovely mugshot, Satan...I mean, Tyler.

Of course, there was the stage makeup, too. In Tyler’s opinion, the devil should be sickly pale, with wickedly black hair, a long black goatee and mustache, and dark circles around his pale eyes. He achieved this look with a copious amount of black hair dye, a lovely eye shadow palette borrowed from moi, and a super-light shade of foundation borrowed from our resident office makeup expert, Sue.

I didn’t tell Tyler this—I’m a bit embarrassed. But that shade of foundation that turned his face a papery white color?

The same shade I use on a daily basis.

What can I say? I’m a good ol’ German Lutheran girl.

Anyway, after Friday’s service, I had scores of people grabbing me by the elbow and breathlessly whispering, “Oh, Cassie, your husband was simply amazing!”

Ironically, the ensuing conversation always went pretty much the same way:

Me: “Thank you, I quite agree—he’s a great actor.”

Them: “Oh, Tyler was just so creepy!”

Me: “Yeah…he was just acting, though…”

Them: “But he was so creepy!”

Me: “Yeah.”

Them: “What’s it like to live with him?”

Me: “You know…intense…”

Them: “Is he that creepy at home?”

Me: “Um…no. You see, he’s just acting.”

Them: “Ooo…he was just so scary. I can’t imagine living with him.”

Me: “You know, he’s not really like that….he’s a good actor.”

The exchanges reminded me of a young friend of mine who was born and raised in Africa, the daughter of missionary parents. She laughingly told me that she can boil down people’s reactions to hearing that she’s from Africa into one of three lines of conversation:

A) “Did you live in a hut?”

B) “Did you have an indoor toilet in your hut?”

C) “Did you play with lions?”

The funniest part of this entire experience, in my personal opinion, is that Tyler did the children’s message on Easter Sunday, at all four services.

Yep—playing Satan on Friday night, and handing out plastic eggs full of candy on Sunday morning. He’s a talented guy.

All humor aside, it was delightful to watch my husband use the gifts God has blessed him with to help an entire church think a little bit differently about the true sacrifice that Christ made for us on that cross. Listening to the twisted, manipulative, venomous anger that Satan has for God—and knowing that despite how bone-chillingly evil Tyler portrayed him as, he didn’t even come close to tapping the true depth of wickedness that the devil actually is was mind-boggling.

And then, of course, was the incredible fact that Tyler didn’t break character once—despite having one of our youth grin and wink at him while he was screaming his lines at full volume.

Or the fact that while he stood in the front of the sanctuary, delivering the most passionate lines of the whole drama in candlelight, the tornado sirens shrieked at full-blast and the wind howled around the building, scaring the dickens out of the hundreds of us inside who were too afraid to move a muscle.

Thank goodness our lives can go back to normal now—without Tyler attempting to perfect the art of imitating the devil.

And let’s just say that despite the fact that I played the lead character in last year’s VBS drama, there’s only room for one actor in this family.

It’s definitely not me.





Don’t Judge the Savior By the Screwball…

17 03 2011

(Author’s Note: This post is part of a multi-author blog site called “The Question”, where a variety of authors will be blogging about a sole topic. To check out the site, please go to whygrudge.blogspot.com or facebook.com/The-Question)


It’s the epic question that, provided you had the right answer, could land you a multi-million dollar book contract and enough speaking engagements to last you a lifetime.

The problem is that I don’t suspect that there’s merely one answer to this taxing question: why do people have a grudge against Christians and the church?

The implications of the answers affect each one of us, as Christians. However, if we’re being honest with ourselves—do we really want to know why we’re so disliked?

To put it in another perspective, isn’t what we’re asking here tantamount to the nerdy dweeb asking the most popular kid in school to bluntly list out all the reasons why he’s not cool?

Quite simply, one of the biggest reasons that Christianity isn’t popular is that we’re soldiers stranded in a hostile enemy territory.

Jesus himself tells us in Luke 12:51, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” The world we live in has little patience for our standards of life. They don’t understand that our philosophy isn’t “every man for himself”, but instead “love your neighbor as yourself”. In a culture obsessed with freedom and success, the idea of submitting and laying down idols seems downright stupid.

And worshipping someone you can’t even see? Ridiculous.

For a year in college, I lived with a roommate who wasn’t a Christian. She was so clueless about Christianity, in fact, that when she watched “The Passion of the Christ” for a mandatory religion class assignment, she paused halfway through the scene of Jesus being whipped mercilessly and asked me, “They don’t kill this guy in the end, do they?”

My roommate observed my behavior as a Christian for an entire year. She asked me questions about why I would get up early on Sunday for church, or why I would waste time reading my Bible when I could be hanging out with the boy I had a crush on down the hall. When I finally convinced her to come to a campus chapel, after months of praying for the opportunity to get her in church for the first time in her life, she sat in mute silence, her face stony. She never came to chapel again.

I valiantly tried my best to point out all the benefits to my life as someone who had a relationship with Christ, but she wasn’t won over by my best arguments. To this ultra-hip, beautiful girl who had everything in the world going for her, she didn’t have the slightest interest in giving up her wild weekends and changing her lifestyle to live a life of obedience and thankfulness for her Savior.

Ultimately, my former roommate became a Christian five years later, after she hit rock bottom in her life. It wasn’t until everything in her life was shaken that she finally realized how important Christ really is.

I think that’s part of it, truly. Our lives are so comfortable and convenient, so fast-paced and chaotic, so distracted, that we forget that we need a Savior. In fact, we’re not entirely convinced that we have anything we need to be saved from. Sure, maybe we screw up every once in a while—but me? Deserve death for my disobedience? Nah.

Sometimes we don’t even realize that our lives have an ending point—and a future home after death—until something earth-shattering forces us to recognize our own invincibility.

And maybe, if we’re being honest, we don’t like to be reminded that we’re invincible. Perhaps we resent the fact that Christianity points out the weaknesses we want to hide, the secret flaws we want to pretend don’t exist in us, and the fact that we, too, will someday cease to breath and will die.

But why, too, are people so opposed to Christians themselves?

Being a Christian, I’m not sure if I can answer that for the “other team” accurately. But I suspect that maybe we find people hating us so much because, well, we’re kind of lame sometimes.

A Christian shirt I actually own...

We wear our pithy Christian shirts. We listen exclusively to our Christian radio stations. We read our Christian books with ridiculous titles, we drive our cars with silly bumper stickers, and we frequent Christian establishments.

Do we ever intentionally look at the bubble of safety we’ve created for ourselves to live comfortably within, and think that maybe we’re not meant to live solely in this zone? That maybe God called us to live out in the world and witness Him to people who don’t read Christian magazines and listen exclusively to Chris Tomlin?

As hard as we try, we’ll never be anything like Jesus. Yet we walk around proclaiming to be His earthly representatives. Unfortunately, when we yell to the world, “I’m a Christian!” and then screw up—as we so often do—we’re representing Him poorly.

Imagine a secretary who proudly claims to represent her boss so well…yet she continually forgets messages, doesn’t return phone calls, loses important receipts, chews out other employees, and bungles one business deal after another. Isn’t that sort of like what we Christians are doing to God?

I hate when I hear a band do a cover of a song from another popular group. Sure, it’s technically the same song—and sure, they can hit all the notes—but at its core, it’s merely an imitation of the real thing. And really, that’s what we are, as Christians. We are merely an imitation of Christ—not Jesus himself.

Sometimes we’re a pretty darn lousy imitation, too. But just as you can’t judge a horrible rendition of a song and give up on the original tune because of the blockhead cover artist, the world shouldn’t judge Christ based on our failed attempt to represent Him.

Somehow, I suspect our mission needs to be getting ourselves out of the way and letting the Holy Spirit shine through us as unclouded as He can. To share that, as Christians, we’re not perfect–but even as the fact that counterfeit money is circulated in the world doesn’t detract from the real money that’s out there, our weak imitation of Christ doesn’t truly represent who He is.

His kindness overflows. Ours does not.

His love is endless. Ours is not.

His forgiveness is limitless. Ours is not.

We are human. He is Almighty.

Our mission, should we choose to accept it, is to realize how far we really are from Christ’s perfect love, and to honestly show that gap to the world. It’s only when we’re actually open to the stinging truth of our own failures and shortcomings that we can admit our own infallibility and our desperate need for a Savior.

Because really, that’s the beauty of our faith in a nutshell: in our deepest shame and our biggest mistakes, we can be forgiven and renewed and given a future we don’t deserve through the grace that Christ offers us freely and unconditionally.

And when we, as His earthly representatives, can be candid about this—maybe we’ll encounter a world more likely to sympathize with us.





On A Hamster Wheel and Spinning Madly…

5 01 2011

Sometimes, I feel a bit like a hamster running frantically on a little metal wheel.

This weekend, I went to the City Museum, a zany and creative interactive playground in downtown St. Louis, with a few friends and some of my high school students. While there, I had the opportunity to actually jog in a glorified hamster wheel–a contraption I privately think of as “the DeathTrap”. It’s a large, wooden circle that rotates as fast as you can run in it–which, if you really get going, can be pretty darn fast.

Every time I’ve used this thing–usually with a few other people–I’ve ended up falling down and seriously bruising my knees on the hard wood planks and gigantic metal hinges.

Me, my husband, and my brother on the City Museum's wooden "DeathTrap" last spring...the boys may LOOK like they're happy, but we were all secretly fearing for our lives.

I don’t know how hamsters survive. Seriously. How do they get off of those maddening metal wheels?

Do they ever get off?

You can obviously tell I’ve never owned a hamster, right? I seem to have a lot of questions about their lifestyle…

So, back to this DeathTrap machine that skinned up both of my knees with surgical precision this Sunday afternoon. I really did feel like a hamster, frantically trying to keep myself upright while this machine rattled around faster and faster–I kid you not. The only thing missing was the cedar woodchips–which, frankly, are more interesting to me than the actual hamsters. 

Sometimes I wish my bedroom floor was coated in cedar woodchips. What a lovely scent that must be to wake up to each morning.

I digress, as usual.

Today, we had a staff meeting that totally sent me spinning, hamster-style, in a new direction. It’s exciting, confusing, uncertain, and exhilarating all at once. Our staff has a lot to discern and pray about in the coming months.

It’s still messy, and we all have lots of questions…but to me, the most important takeaway is that my church is willing to change in a time when the landscape of religion is definitely changing all over the world. I feel so fortunate to be a part of a staff that’s actively studying culture, striving to be influential and relevant in our communities and world, and is ready to take whatever steps necessary to reach people with the life-saving message of the Gospel–even if it means stepping away from everything we’ve always done, and all of the carefully crafted programs and events we’ve so meticulously created over the last several decades.

Somehow, God managed to place me perfectly at this church. It’s not a church that’s going to bury its head in the sand and let the world pass it by, becoming obsolete; rather, it’s a church that is seeking to understand what’s going on in the world and how it can still be relevant with an eternal truth that the world needs to hear.

Yowzah.

I’m excited for the future of Faith, and I’m looking forward to the new directions that our church will be heading soon. I truly think that God is guiding us–in fact, I think that we’re heading the same direction that a lot of other churches and leaders in the Christian world are heading.

2011–it’s a whole new adventure.

The wheel’s already spinning, friends…





A Little Look Back is Good for the Soul…

16 12 2010

Yesterday was the two-and-a-half year anniversary of my first day working at Faith Lutheran Church.

Looking back–I was a bright-eyed, ambitious, and totally overwhelmed young intern.

I shared an office with another co-worker, had about five books on my bookcase, a computer, and a whole desk drawer full of empty files.

Oh, and a pen that I had brought from home. I didn’t know where the community stash of pens was located yet.

And–I wore heels.

You’d have to work here to understand how outlandish that is. I felt like a pariah.

Beyond our senior pastor and the co-worker I was sharing an office with, I couldn’t remember any of my coworkers’ names. Which was doubly awkward, because the entire staff had peeked into my Facebook profile before I even arrived in St. Louis–so the first comment that many of them made to me was, “Gee, you don’t look anything like what your pictures looked like!”

Me with my husband, during our first month here in St. Louis...

(Note to self: don’t show up to a brand-new office with a drastically shorter haircut, when your co-workers have already done reconnaissance work on you. It’s never good to throw people a curveball when they don’t know you yet.)

Since my husband and I had just moved to St. Louis from southern California, I didn’t know my way around the city at all. My dear husband had kindly inked a tiny map of my route to work on a Post-It note, which I pasted securely on my dashboard.

Did I mention it was the first day of Vacation Bible School? The church was overflowing with people–and my first responsibility was to wrangle a class of preschool kids for the entire morning.

By some small miracle, I handled those screaming, energetic youngsters and managed to ease into my job and learn the complexities of the office copier in the course of that week.

The hard part was yet to come, though. My duty at Faith was clear: my job was to work with middle schoolers and help manage the brand-new student center that they had just built.

Beyond that, I was clueless.

Ironically, in the course of my studies in Christian education at Concordia University, I had often said that I didn’t want to work with kids any younger than high school–that my intellectual nature wasn’t compatible with grade school or middle school kids.

That’s why you never make statements like that, right? They seem to always come back to bite you.

That week, I hosted my first “official” youth event–a little pizza party halfway through the week, designed for me to meet and greet dozens of middle school kids at once. I remember being so excited to meet these kids, but so nervous that they wouldn’t like me at all–that they would breeze past me, grab the pizza, and hightail it home without a second glance. What if God plunked me right down in a place where people would hate me?

I was pleasantly surprised to discover how friendly the Faith kids were. They actually seemed to like me right away.

On day two, I was able to sit in the unfinished student center building, sipping cappuccino as I chatted with a few middle schoolers and high schoolers. Slow but steady progress.

Unfortunately, I was completely flabbergasted when I realized how many names, facts, and stories I would have to learn. My mind was spinning when I collapsed at home every night that week.

Little did I know at that time that I would spend the next few years laughing, crying, and bonding with these people…that some of them would become like my own kids…that their families would open their homes to us and take us…that I would end up thanking God for this church and the people here every day.

Oh, and I didn’t ever expect that I would find myself doing games that involved kids eating baby food or shooting cereal out of their nostrils…but that’s happened, too.

So much has happened in the last few years. I’ve met so many incredible people, and I’ve cried tears of joy upon seeing the love and generosity of so many people who so freely share God’s love with me. I’ve had doors open for me to pursue my passions in writing and student leadership development, by writing my own column at thESource, helping Lutheran Hour Ministries with their curriculum, and being a part of the Missouri District Peer Ministry Training Team. I’ve been inspired and motivated by my coworkers. I’ve made connections with great DCEs and youth workers all over the state of Missouri. I’ve loved working with incredible, devoted, inspirational leaders in our middle school programs. I’ve been blessed to be able to freely go into the public grade school and middle schools near us and simply hang out with students–to meet them where they’re at. I’ve been able to mentor a couple of students and see tangibly how God is powerfully working in their young lives.

Oh, and I’m currently on Computer #3, and have a jam-packed bookshelf and file cabinet. And I only wear heels on Sundays around here–especially not during Vacation Bible School week.

I could never have imagined all of this, back on my first day of work at Faith.

It’s easy for me to forget how abundantly God has blessed me–so this little look back is good for my soul.

Despite the many frustrations, moments of doubt and anger, my incessant questions, my wrestling with my calling as a church worker, my discontent, and my flaws and weaknesses, God has been faithful to me. He’s been my Anchor as I struggled to settle into a new marriage, two new homes in a new state, a new job, new friends and co-workers, and plenty of new passions.

Thanks, God.

Now if only He could do something about the pens that my friends seem to get a kick out of stealing…that’s a dirty (although highly effective) prank.