RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Community

“Take your make up off, Let your hair down, Take a breath, Look into the mirror at yourself, Don’t you like you? Cause I like you…”

“Put your make up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?”
 It’s the tiniest slip, a mere 100 feet from Gymboree to Justice, but it’s another galaxy. Kittens to cheerleading. Tiny bows to sparkly boots. The smallest change in cuts, so that the shoulder is exposed a bit more. You pull it down, I pull it up. This is the year of more no than yes. The year that the one piece versus bikini became reality instead of theory. These baby girls who hate being called babies walk their spindly legs down familiar halls, and the bathrooms suddenly have mirrors. When did they get mirrors? Us moms, we don’t ever forget that first time we see you suck your stomach in. We want to warn you, but we also see the freight train that carries braces, pimples, and cramps barreling down the track, and we are powerless to do anything but catch a ride alongside you. Doesn’t it feel like a race? To catch onto the thing that will make you “it”,  you just can’t be the last to catch on! You ask us when you can start shaving your legs, and we beg for more time. Babies, do you know how loved you are? Do you know how we stay awake, memorizing every dip and curve of your face? Do you know about the moments that we catch a glimpse and can’t speak because of your beauty? Can you hear your mother’s voice as it cracks with tears when she talks about you? Can you see the desperation in her eyes when you tell her that you just wish you were pretty, because she just can’t find enough words to express how beautiful you are?
Babies, did you know your Father feels this way about you?
“Get your sexy on
Don’t be shy, girl
Take it off
This is what you want, to belong, so they like you
Do you like you?”
 A thousand voices compete for your attention, and sometimes the most negative one is your own. You might despise us now. Loves, we mamas need grace. It’s probably easy for you to forget that along with hurting with you, we can be hurt by you too. We remember our own adolescent struggles with dress sizes and acne, with that one boy who spoke cruel words, with that embarrassing moment we were sure no one would ever forget, and then we sigh and remember that you have all these same moments captured on Instagram. When you walk into that high school on that first day, your mama is pleading for you, that you might rise above the fray, but we also know that no destination is worth getting to if you don’t have to swim hard for it. So we step back and continue the gut wrenching process of releasing that which we never owned, and give you a sympathetic smile when you cry over dateless dances. Did you know we would still let you stand on our feet to dance? Do you know that at every turn, we are praying that you won’t fall for the scheme of letting others decide your beauty?
Loves, did you know your Father pursues you this way?
“Get your shopping on, at the mall, max your credit cards
You don’t have to choose, buy it all, so they like you
Do they like you?”
Sisters, aren’t you tired? Do you remember a time when you thought that desire to belong and fit in was simply a childish goal and someday you wouldn’t care? And now we hover in doorways at PTA meetings, we sit alone on park benches, we form a line of quiet loneliness while our kids play soccer. We’ve gotten good at the game, claiming ignorance of the game itself. But we go home and slather on our expensive night cream, and we look in the mirror and sigh. Sure, we proudly own our laboring stretch marks and embrace the gray, but that desire, the one to be known, it is just as strong. Sisters, did you know that He put that in you? And yet we protect and manage, putting our best night creamed face forward, just to come home exhausted because its just.so.much.work.
Beloved Sisters, did you know your Father wants you to rest?
Today is the first day of school. Today, His daughters will venture out into a world that can be incredibly cruel. Today I will pray for myself and for my sisters.

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com
Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77
Advertisements

“Let it go, let it go, can’t hold it back anymore…”

Back in May, our family sat around our dinner table and made a list of individual goals. We divided them up into reading goals, learning goals, activity goals, and just fun goals. Some examples were- reading 10,000 pages, learning to make pizza, learning about civil rights, learning to fish, learning to run, going to a water park, having two days a week with no technology, etc.

I’m happy to report that we met all our goals and we are entering the new school year as well rested, well-rounded people who are quite frankly, much smarter and cooler than the rest of you slackers.

Eh…something like that. Here’s the truth- only Josiah met his reading goal. He surpassed 10,000 pages actually, which is impressive until I tell you that we probably haven’t spoken to him in a few weeks. There’s been no fishing, no deck building, I have learned 0 new songs on the guitar, no water park, and my children have developed a deep abiding relationship with the television this summer, followed closely by becoming besties with the Xbox. I did not learn how to make artisan bread or homemade sushi, but I DID learn that if you offer no alternative, your children will eat peanut butter and jelly for more than one day in a row.

This week has been difficult, for many reasons, but one of the reasons is that I have been struggling with guilt over how our summer has progressed, and the lack of meaningful interactions between me and my kids. Actually, that’s just fancy blog talk for saying I feel like a failure. A big old not running, frozen waffle making, swimming counts as a bath failure. School starts in a week and my house isn’t more organized. I have no meal plans ready. There are no homework stations and at this point, I am not quite sure where Josiah’s toothbrush is.

It’s amazing to me that we do this- we look at summer vacation and forget that it’s only a vacation for the kids. My life and responsibilities haven’t stopped! In fact, they have at least doubled, because now I have three kids home. Home. All the time. All the days and hours. They are home. With me. All the days. They are home with me and that means I have 88% less time to do laundry, cook, clean, organize the house, take care of the dog, do ministry, write, spend time with friends, spend time with the Lord, and be a wife. Not sure if 88% is right, but who has time to do correct math when all the children are here?? So we have less time and less energy, yet we make goals for ourselves as though we have all the free time in the world. It’s crazy and unrealistic. And for me, it has set me up for grouchiness and crying and guilt.

And I’ve decided I’ve had enough. I can’t find any scripture about spanish lessons or running a marathon or reading Shakespeare or learning cursive. But I’ve read plenty about rest and loving others and laughter and being patient and kind. And I think my ancestors would roll their eyes at my fretting, so I am taking my cues from them. I want to encourage you with the following questions-

1. Has your child been eaten by a wooly mammoth or scarred by an attack while gathering water at the watering hole?

2. Has your child lost any fingers or limbs in a combine this summer?

3. Did you child contract Bubonic Plague while gathering wild mushrooms to feed the family?

If you answered “no” to each of these, then congratulations, your summer was a success!

And more questions-

1. Did your child eat this summer?

2. Did water come into contact with your child’s body this summer?

3. Is your child currently breathing?

If you answered “yes”, then you are a rock star summer parent.

 

The truth is, while many parents wrestle with wanting to have a perfect Pinterest summer, I struggled more with wanting some high level spiritual experience for my kids. I wanted us to be sweet and generous and loving and prayerful and creative and singing and Spinterest. Spiritual Pinterest. But I bet I don’t have to tell you that the world of Spinterest does contain an extraordinary amount of “spin”. Our family is just full of human sinners, and three months of constant togetherness has brought out that sin in some unique and loud ways. Some days were louder than others.

Sweet friends, take a deep breath. Channel your inner Elsa and let. it. go. Don’t let your Spinterest hopes distract you from what is right in front of you- a beautiful, restful, joy filled sink of dirty dishes. They’ll be there tomorrow. Maybe even the next day. And no one will die or abandon their faith because of it.

Your babies are watching to see how you feel about those dirty faces and dishes.

 

tumblr_mwqxh25Xqj1s8xi8wo1_1280

 

Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

 

“Silk suit, black tie, I don’t need a reason why They come runnin’ just as fast as they can ’cause every girl crazy ’bout a sharp dressed man…”

“Are you gonna write about Duck Dynasty??”

To quack or not to quack- that is the question. A friend asked me this, so here’s the answer.

Nope.

How can you stay silent?! Don’t you CARE about this issue?? Don’t you understand our very way of duck life is being threatened?!?

You know, there’s much about social media and technology that has harmed our society, but I believe one of the most significant ways it hurts us is that it creates a false intimacy. Sitting in our beds with laptops, warm and cozy, it feels like we are just chatting with an old friend, joking and laughing and we forget that what we are actually doing is screaming our thoughts and feelings to a large group of people (and in some cases, the entire world hears us loud and clear #HasJustineLandedYet )

Social media strips away the parts of communication that can make or break a conversation  -there’s no emoticon for a compassionate look, reaching over to hold a trembling hand, silently handing over Kleenex. No Facebook debate can replace two friends in conflict who stop and say “Wait. I want to really understand how you feel about this.”

Jesus was pretty smart when He emphasized relationships. Truth should be spoken, and often. Hard conversations should be had. Friends should be faithful wounders. But it is ALL within the context of relationship. The people you’ve loved and served and taken meals to and laughed with and cried with.  Those people you pursue, the ones who break your heart…but they break your heart because you’ve taken the time to know them, not know their profile pic.

This tendency to think we really know someone when we don’t is part of why casual statements sting so much. It’s possible that Phil Robertson is a world-class jerk- I don’t really know him, I only know what I see on television- but I bet that if you sat with him and broke bread gumbo with him, you might walk away still disagreeing, but feeling heard and understood. The Bible gives us answers to this-

“What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you?”- James 4:1

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.”- 2 Timothy 2:23

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.  Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples”- John 13:34-35

This is a good lesson for me when I am tempted to blog and rant about a certain subject. My words matter, and on the interwebs and some people’s hearts, they are forever. I can’t stray from truth, but I must consider timing and method. It’s a crazy difficult balance. If you don’t think so, consider whether you are compromising or stomping over people. It’s so easy (and quite frankly, a little lazy) to spout off that X is wrong because the bible says so and that’s all there is to it without care to how your words might be interpreted. It’s just as unloving to be in a relationship with others without ever having those difficult conversations.

Sometimes I think we hide behind wanting to know what someone thinks because it’s a nice distraction from really wrestling with tough subjects. I mean, who has time to struggle though how to love a difficult neighbor when Joe Bob from high school posted something rude on Facebook about Republicans?! I’m kidding of course, no one consciously thinks this, but we are obsessed with the “need” to say what we think to strangers. And then we are Pavlovian rewarded by retweets, new followers and a tiny thumbs up icon. I am guilty.

So this week as we visit extended family, can we put relationship first? Can we care more about what’s going on in cousin Jane’s life than we are about the fact that she showed up for dinner wearing a sweatshirt with Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck shooting a moose on it? (I have no idea if such a sweatshirt exists but it probably does because Etsy). Can we love and serve the guy at dinner who uses His name as an expletive? Can we remember that wearing the robe of being on the right team of being right and being righteous is still a set of dirty rags in desperate need of Love and a Savior?

 

 

 

 

I was born a cynic. No kidding, even in my baby pictures, I look like I am suspicious of the intent of the photographer. I have fought this cynicism my entire life, because while it has served me well in many areas, it also has the downside of causing me to negatively interpret others *cough Wes*. But a bright side (see? I’m already growing- I’m seeing a bright side!) is that while I see many others growing more cynical as they grow older, I have grown to be less so. Jesus has been faithful to grow in me the ability to believe the best about others, and to assume good intent.

So most of the time when I hear something that might sting my heart, I assume that the person is unaware of it and did not intend to hurt me or others. But I’d love to share with you some statements that I’ve heard many times that cut, but they are not so obvious as “what’s wrong with your kid?” I think this applies to any parent, but in my case, I am specifically talking about questions or statements made to parents of children with special needs. Let me also say, I don’t say this to cause anyone shame, because I know I’ve said most of these things to others too, not realizing how the words come across.

Seven things NOT to say to a parent of a child with special needs:

1. “He/She looks fine to me!”

I think the intent behind this is to somehow reassure a parent that their child is not viewed differently by a person, but what it can come across as is an expression of disbelief in the child’s diagnosis. This can be especially painful when it comes from family members, as they are usually privy to more intimate details of a child’s struggles than the general public.

2. He/She does great for me!

This is related but slightly different in that it can communicate that not only do you have doubts about the child’s diagnosis, but it can also express that the problems a parent is having with a child is actually the fault of the parent. I had a teacher once tell me “I never hear Josiah wheezing, I think he’s fine”, but didn’t know that Josiah’s asthma rarely shows up in wheezing, but in persistent coughing instead. What I heard was “he is fine and you are overreacting.”

3. Does he/she eat sugar/drink caffeine/get enough sleep?

Trust me that any parent with a child with special needs already struggles with blaming themselves for every difficulty their child has. Please also trust me that parents with these kids, especially kids with emotional or behavioral issues, have thought ad nauseam about their child’s eating and sleeping habits. There’s a strong chance that the parent is way beyond considering sugar and sleep and are well on their way into researching molecular level changes to diet. And the answer is likely to be “Yes. Sometimes she has sugar. Because she’s a kid, and I’m going to let her have a stinking cupcake.”

4. “You’re amazing, I don’t know how you do it”

What could possibly be wrong with being told that you are amazing?? Well, the problem is that what you are saying is they are amazing to be able to deal with such a difficult kid. And no matter how frustrated or tired or overwhelmed a parent might be, they do not want to hear that anyone thinks their child is difficult.

5. “God gives special kids to special parents!”

Here’s the deal- I believe God creates families and He knows what is best. So in that sense, yes, God knows what a child is going to struggle with long before they are born into a family. But the problem with that statement is that it implies that one, He only orchestrates families with special needs kids and the typical families are put together randomly and two, God has chosen that parent for that child because He knew they could handle it. This is bad theology (you can’t handle it. Neither can I. I also can’t handle my typical children. We stagger through the day, desperate for His guidance for every breath, no matter what the situation is.) and it sends a message of unfair burden, like it is not okay to feel angry or frustrated or sad about your child’s struggles. When I hear this, I feel a bit like Frodo, like I’ve been chosen to carry some ring and I’m not allowed to be sad or angry ever about the journey because BILBO AND THE HOBBIT WORLD AND ALL THE FAIRIES AND DUMBLEDORE ARE COUNTING ON YOU DON’T SCREW THIS UP AND THROW IT INTO THE WRONG VOLCANO YOU IDIOT. I probably shouldn’t use Lord of the Rings analogies, but you get my point.

6.”Have you read this awesome poem about Holland?”  http://www.our-kids.org/Archives/Holland.html

This is no offense to the writer of this poem. Really. It’s just that the chances are, yes, they have read the poem. They have read it because the second your child has a diagnosis, you get copies of that poem emailed to you daily, it comes in cards, it’s printed on pamphlets for therapists, and if you miss all that, it will come by owl. And I’ve found that people have two reactions- they either love it or hate it. For some people, parenting feels nothing like being in Holland. It’s more like being stuck on the tarmac, squeezed in the middle seat next to Tuberculosis Tom and Overly friendly Olga. For some parents, they have not reached a place where they can see meaning behind the struggle. For some, being encouraged to find meaning feels condescending.

7. “I’m sure he/she is going to be fine”

When someone says this to me, I hear “you are worrying over nothing”, and “I am done talking about this.” The thing is, “fine” is impossible to define and no one can be sure about anything. To be honest, people who speak in quick solutions and definitive terms don’t always feel safe to me.

So what are some things that are GOOD to say?

I love you.

Let’s pray.

Go take a nap/go shopping/read a book while I watch him/her.

You’re doing a great job.

I love____ about your child.

I’d love to know the best way to serve you. What are some ways that I could help?

Parents, what are the questions and statements that are difficult for you to deal with? How can Wes and I pray for you and your child?

Jesus_Special_Needs_Kids2

“And I won’t let you pull me in, because I know you’re gonna win, but the war is over, I won’t fight you anymore, I’ve never been so sure that the war is over…”

“I usually make all his food, but it’s just hard when you are out, you know?” she said sheepishly as she pulled out a jar of pureed carrots.  The statement was met with a chorus of nods and sympathetic looks. Of course, there’s usually one in the group, the one who starts sentences with “well, have you tried…?” and I watched as she gave her suggestion about some fancy contraption made for making baby food, some kind of machine that you place a whole carrot into and it automatically dices and purees it, then funnels it directly to the mouth while simultaneously filling out your baby’s college applications. There were appropriate oohs and ahhs over the “what-will-they-think-of-next” idea, and I watched the new mom’s face relax in relief as she passed this new level of the mommy test, an arbitrary set of rules and expectations that are constantly changing but NEVER spoken about.

First rule of mommy fight club. You don’t talk about mommy fight club. (that’s actually the second rule. First rule is we wear yoga pants on Wednesday)

I don’t know who came up with this horrible little game, but I imagine it’s been around for a long while. I’m guessing cavemoms sat around the fire and grunted about if babies should sleep on the ground or on rocks or how they just could not BELIEVE that some women give their babies Wooly Mammoth milk. Of course, before they could decide the winner, they were sadly eaten by that very same Mammoth but you get my point.

I think what makes this dynamic so difficult is that the standards of what a good mom is changes based on how many kids you have, where you live, what the current culture says, what time of day it is, sometimes what time of the month it is. It’s not like we can study for the exams- the answer key changes faster than Jenny McCarthy can write another book about “autism”.

See what I did there? Talked smack about Jenny McCarthy AND used quotes for a well proven developmental disorder. I get extra credit for that.

So here you go- let’s at least agree to make this a little easier to pass or fail, okay?  Take the quiz below to determine where YOU fall in this good/bad mom scale. See scoring key below

  1. While in labor, which of the following did you do?
    1. Lamaze breathing while focusing on a sonogram picture of your baby
    2. Swam laps in the baby pool that you set up in your living room while your husband played a recording of whales joyfully talking to each other.
    3. Have your husband construct a harness so your personal photographer can hang over the doctor so they don’t miss any of the special moments.
    4. Scream at a med student and kick your ob/gyn in the face when they try to check you. (these questions are not necessarily created out of someone’s experience. I just heard some women probably do that)
  1. Your toddler wants candy at the store, and begins to whine and scream. You-
    1. Firmly tell him no and ignore the whining
    2. Leave the store because of all the stares
    3. Tell him he can have candy if he asks nicely
    4. Tell him no. Buy the candy. Eat it in front of him to prove a point.
  1. What do you do when your child is refusing to go to sleep?
    1. Compromise with one more story
    2. Pretend you don’t hear the footsteps moving around upstairs
    3. Tell your spouse that it’s their turn
    4. Tell your child about the lava monster that lives under the bed that eats children’s feet at night when they touch the floor.
  1. Your child is angry and screams “I hate you!”  Your response is-
    1. Lovingly wrap them in a hug and tell them you understand
    2. Yell back that you’ll give them something to hate you for
    3. Ignore them until they take it back
    4. Send them to their room, eat ice cream and hum “Butterfly Kisses” through tears

Scoring Key-

If you scored mostly any of these, that means you actually read through this and that means you are a wonderful person. It might also mean you have too much free time.

We talk a lot about the mommy war, and how we should just all accept and support each other, and stop being so critical of each other. I agree with this, but I’d like to propose another possibility.

Stop prepping for battle.

Let me tell you an embarrassing story about me. When Selah was about four months old, Wes and I went to a party at a friend’s house and we took her with us. It started to get late, so I asked this friend if I could borrow a pack and play to put Selah down in. She led me up to their room and set it up for me. As I changed Selah into pajamas, she asked me how old Selah was. I answered “four months” and she said this world crashing statement to me-

“Wow. I could never have put my babies down like that at four months old”

Now, if you are not neurotic and over sensitive and generally crazy, you understand that she meant that at four months, her babies would not have tolerated being put down awake without screaming. That is a very reasonable interpretation of that statement.

I, on the other hand, was horrified because in my head, she meant “Wow. You must be a terrible person who hates her baby and probably hates babies in general. I am a most excellent mother and highly attached to my children. I could have NEVER have left their tiny sides a mere four months after they emerged from my womb. I am sad for you that you can carelessly toss your baby into baby jail. Just how many puppies have you murdered today?”

I’d love to tell you that I realized how crazy I was being right away…but I didn’t. I didn’t even CONSIDER that she didn’t mean that. And you know what, I believed that this woman thought I was a bad mom for Y-E-A-R-S. One day, I was talking to another younger mom about putting babies to bed, and it hit me like a ton of bricks what she really meant. And then I felt REALLY stupid.

This has been a huge lesson for me. She didn’t do anything wrong. Her innocent remark got wrapped up in MY insecurity, and was swallowed up by my desire for her to think I was a good mom and my fear that I wasn’t. Her opinion, or my assumption of her opinion, became more important than what God thought. Now, when I am sitting in that group of women and the subject of breastfeeding versus formula comes up, I try to make a choice to believe that these women are not judging me. When I am with homeschooling moms, I can choose to believe that they don’t care that my kids are in public school. When my child throws a huge fit in the park, I want to choose to believe other moms are looking at me with sympathy, not scorn.

The mommy war is real…but I don’t think the battle flares nearly as often as we think it does.

So mamas, take a deep breath today and relax. If you are holding a weapon against another mom, lay it down, but make sure you lay down your armor too because there’s a pretty good chance you aren’t being attacked.

boxing

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

Mama Mondays- “Stand by your man, and tell the world you love him Keep giving all the love you can, Stand by your man…”

“My husband just left his job in finance after feeling like he is called to full-time ministry. He’s now on staff at a church, and I was wondering what advice you’d give to a new pastor’s wife?”

Let me preface this by saying- my experience comes from being raised in a mid-sized traditional southern Baptist church, and then serving in small Baptist churches in small towns and now a very large non-denom/bible church in Dallas. I am quite sure the culture of other enviromentn and other denominations have different expectations and norms.

I love this question. Partly because I truly love being married to a pastor and partly because it makes me look back and giggle at some of the crazy things I thought I had to be or do to be a “good pastor’s wife”. My idea of a good pastor’s wife wavered somewhere between a stereotype of tall haired Christmas sweater wearing children’s minister and the wife on Footloose. My ideas were not much worse than my husband’s. A story that we can laugh about now is that when he got his first job in a church, we were both twenty. It was the summer, and we were serving in a very small, very traditional Baptist church with a large senior adult population. One sunday, I got cornered by the blue haired mafia, a group of three ladies who went to high school with Moses. They affectionately asked me how I was enjoying married life and told me how much they loved that we were there, and then told me that I was a beautiful young lady but “no music minister worth his salt would let his wife come to church in open toed shoes!” If this had happened today, I would remind them that Jesus wasn’t rocking Hush Puppies, but back then, I wanted badly to be liked and be approved of, so I nodded meekly and cried in the bathroom for the shame I had bought upon my family. Later that week, Wes said “why don’t we go get some more conservative clothes for you?” and I agreed. He chose this-

elaine

Mine was just a little bit cooler because I also had the Rachel haircut, so I think we can all agree that I was quite the stumbling block.

I wore that dress a grand total of two times before I submissively told Wes what he could do with it. While we can laugh about it now, the truth is, I really struggled for a very long time about my identity as a pastor’s wife and a lot of that struggle was done in complete isolation. I didn’t really know anyone my age who was married to a pastor, and unfortunately, I didn’t really have any older women invested in disciplining me. I also operated most frequently out of a place of fear and people pleasing, which sent me into a pattern of feeling like I had to have it all together and be all things for all people. Please trust me that you can’t keep that up for very long without some serious damage to your emotional health, your relationship with your husband and friends, and your intimacy with Jesus.

Some things to consider BEFORE accepting a position…

*Your relationship with Christ and your marriage are first. This means that if you are serving in an unhealthy, unbiblical church, these relationships will suffer. It is so easy for couples to accept the first church position that they are offered, especially for newly married couples or couples right out of school, but this is a real mistake. You are not only serving in this job, you are being discipled! You cannot give if you are not also poured into.  It’s not enough to simply agree with a church’s statement of faith, you must also get a good feel for the culture of the church and of the staff and leadership. Asking questions like-

How do you handle conflict as a church and as a staff?

What is in place to build up and strengthen marriages for your staff members?

What sort of accountability is set up for staff members and how are sin issues handled when brought to light?

Pay attention to how the leadership speaks- if no one ever talks about their own personal marriage or struggles, this is a huge red flag. If they say they really don’t have much conflict, run. (they do have conflict- they just have it in secret) If they say that sin struggles are between you and the Lord, this is unbiblical and will cause you and your husband pain. Vocational ministry is a great blessing, but it can also be difficult and if you or your husband do not have others to help you and your marriage be what Jesus desires it to be, you will find yourself isolated which is a great path to more sin, pain and even divorce. I’m not saying these things can’t happen if you have others around you, but I am saying that isolation is like a great big room where you can only hear your own voice.

So you’ve found the right job and church…what now?

*Forget the schedule. I think this is especially difficult for those who have come out of the corporate world, but even for those who have only done ministry, sometimes it’s hard to remember that ministry just isn’t 9-5. People and lives are messy, and sometimes that messiness comes at the most inopportune times. It’s great to have boundaries for your family (hint- your husband’s leaders and accountability are your biggest ally in helping set those boundaries), but also know that sometimes life happens and it will bless you and your husband to be flexible. There will be midnight phone calls. There will be hospital visits that last for hours. There will be those meetings where he can’t answer any calls or texts. There will be out-of-town funerals. Pray for compassion for yourself for these “interruptions”, knowing that the Lord is also teaching YOU something through them.

*Don’t believe the hype. This is one of the oddest aspects of ministry that I’ve encountered, but it happens sometimes where people just decide that they want to be friends with someone on staff.  I’m not sure why, other than just the false perception that somehow it’s more cool to be friends with someone “with power”. Sometimes this looks like someone acting like your new best friend five minutes after you meet. Sometimes it looks like someone being super friendly to you so that they can then complain to you about everything they hate about the church. Sometimes it looks like someone not being very friendly until they find out who you are married to and then they are extremely friendly (this one bothers me the most). It’s easy to get discouraged, but remember that these people are not  trying to hurt you, and likely they are hurt themselves. Invest and be intentional with those who are your real friends- these people are invaluable. I cannot stress that enough. Don’t put too much stock into compliments or praise. Those who give easy compliments are usually those who will quickly turn and talk about you behind your back.

*Don’t forget that “she” is out there. Just being frank- there are women who, for multiple reasons, target pastors to try to seduce. It’s probably a combination of being attracted to a Godly man, being jealous and dissatisfied with their own lives, and the thrill of being with someone unattainable. Be aware of these women. Don’t be paranoid, don’t assume, but be wise and don’t be afraid to speak up to your husband if a woman is making you uncomfortable.

*Find your place. Your natural gifts and passions may line up completely with your husband’s job…and they may not. For years, I felt like I had to be right next to Wes, doing exactly what he was doing. Don’t get me wrong, you may be asked to serve in ways that stretch you, and that is a good thing. But if you break out in hives at the thought of singing in front of others, and your husband leads worship, this doesn’t mean you HAVE to be on the praise team. God created you as a fully formed person, not just an extension of your husband. You have gifts and abilities that you probably don’t even know about yet. Make sure to explore those, you will be blessed by developing new passions.

*Remember your purpose for your husband. Ladies, this has been the singular most challenging thing for me in 16 years of being married to a pastor. On one hand, he may have people yelling at him all day and angry at him for his job. On the other hand, he may also have people telling him how amazing he is all day. Both are false and both are dangerous for him and your family. Pray for your husband. Pray for him some more. Ask him how you can serve and encourage him. Don’t be afraid to say hard things to him. Pray about when to keep your words inside. Bring others into your marriage. Encourage him (and at times, I have made Wes) to take off his pastor hat and just be a guy. Make sure he has men around him who are NOT “yes men”. You and your husband need people who will tell you when you are acting foolishly. Make your marriage (not just your kids) a priority. Model transparency. It’s such a lie from the pit that pastors have it all together, that someone they are less sinful or smarter sinners than others, but it’s a lie that many many people believe. Guys look, it’s not comfortable for me to speak in public or write about our marriage issues. It’s just not. But I do it because it’s good for us and because of the many emails and messages I get saying “Please pray for my marriage” or “I thought I was the only one”.

Last thing- it’s so helpful to have some friends who are also in ministry. My best friends are also on staff at our church, and it is a comfort to know that when I talk about a certain aspect of ministry life, she understands. That can be difficult when you are in a smaller church or town. Nothing replaces real live friendships, but in those instances, I think that is a blessing of the online world.

If you are a staff wife, I’d love to hear how I can pray for you! Leave a comment, or email me and I will add you to my prayer list!

Have a question or subject for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

“Till we know the pain of a broken heart, we can’t walk through the fires we didn’t start, So just hold on to the way it is tonight, learn to love through the darkness and the light, I’m on your side Oh, I’m on your side…”

Turn on any news channel and it won’t take long to hear something about the pro-choice/pro-life debate. Here in Texas, the conflict has been especially tense as our government seeks to regulate abortion clinics. Running alongside this debate is a growing group of people who are raising awareness of the adoption aspect of abortion, and we’ve seen an increase in churches who are choosing to support families who want to adopt in ways they haven’t before. “There is no such thing as an unwanted child!” is the rallying cry, as they seek to send the message that abortion isn’t the only option when an expectant mother does not want to parent.

Along the same vein, recently there is an increased awareness of the ethical intricacies of international adoption. As many countries have either slowed considerably or completely shut down, we see sad reports of unethical practices, child trafficking, and agency fraud. Those who are blowing the whistles are sometimes labeled as “anti- adoption” and are accused of not caring about the orphans waiting in difficult circumstances. “There is no such thing as an unwanted child!” is stated again as some fight to make adoption overseas easier, faster, and without limitations.

Self confession- sometimes the debate is exhausting. Sometimes in the evenings, once the kids are finally whackamoled into bed, after dishes are done and I finally sit down, I have good intentions of reading and educating myself on all these issues, but then I fall asleep watching The Office reruns. It’s easy for me to boil this down to a simplistic view of being prolife=support adoption in all situations. I am prolife…but I think it’s important that we look at what that means.

I believe life is precious and orchestrated by God. I believe we are charged with protecting life, advocating for those who can’t advocate for themselves, and living in a way that places life above other things. So what does this mean for me?

It means that I realize that life isn’t simply brain and heart function. It means that I follow His example of not only protecting life, but protecting abundant life. It means that I put others ahead of myself and my desires…and this may mean I put another person ahead of my desire to parent. I believe this means that adoption isn’t the first or only option we offer to expectant mothers, and we love them enough to support them in emotional and practical ways so that they might be able to choose to parent. It means that when we are matched with an expectant mother, we make a choice to make sure she is counseled about her choice, even if it means she may change her mind. It means that we don’t make promises about open adoption that we aren’t sure we can or don’t intend to keep. It means that if we agree to a certain level of contact, we honor that commitment. It means that after we bring our child home, we are Christ-like in how we talk about birth parents. It means that if a child is removed because of abuse or neglect, our first goal should be that there would be full healing for the birth parents and the family can be reunited.  It means that we don’t see birth parents as a means to an end.

With international adoption, it means that we do not choose an agency that promises to get us a child faster than anyone else and has little to no accountability. It means that we take every measure possible to make sure that the child’s story is accurate. It means that we choose to become educated about the problem of child trafficking, because for some, our families are the face of international adoption. It means we work to increase domestic adoption within countries, because we acknowledge that staying in a country of origin ultimately is less traumatic for a child. It means we ask questions and demand answers. It means that we make a commitment to pray through each step, and trust that one of those steps may be to stop.

Prolife can’t simply mean protecting the unborn. It has to mean a respect and reverence for all life, including birth families.  Prolife can’t just mean that we believe the child in a womb is precious. It has to mean we believe the woman intent on aborting that child is precious. It has to mean we believe the doctor performing the abortion is precious. It has to mean we believe the politician that voted to make it possible is precious. Because while we may mean it when we say there is no such thing as an unwanted child, the truth is that in His eyes, there is no unwanted person, and no person that is less precious to Him. The man over the ocean that sells his child, the woman down the street who abuses drugs and leaves her child hungry, the woman who works tirelessly at the crisis pregnancy center… the caste system is our creation, not His. 

Luke 6:32-33- “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much!”

Have a question for Mama Mondays? Email me at brandy.followingbutterflies@yahoo.com

Follow me on Twitter @brandyb77

This post was also published at http://www.mercyfoundministries.com

%d bloggers like this: