Saturday, September 17, 2011

Practicing Sunday Morning

Last night my husband and I took our three boys to church to practice for Sunday morning. There's no special performance; we were just practicing the usual Sunday morning procedure.

Sunday school started last week. We went to church for fellowship time (eating and talking) which is followed immediately by classes. When it was time to take the kids to their classes, my 5-year-old had disappeared. I walked all around the building looking for him and 10 minutes later saw him in the hallway crying with his preschool teacher. He didn't want to go to class and so hid in his preschool cubby.

My husband could tell something was wrong because he saw me searching and looking worried but he was starting class for the adults and couldn't help me parent. He would help if I asked but this kind of thing happens nearly every week.

So for practice we sat in the sanctuary and talked about the parts of the worship service. They were most interested in talking about the offering and what poor people might buy with the money we give them. I didn't tell them yet that we are the poor people benefiting from the offering. Then we practiced waiting for Mom before leaving the sanctuary and walking down the hallway and telling Mom before you leave a room.

Looking forward to seeing if anything goes more smoothly tomorrow.

How have you helped your kids learn how to behave at church?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sunday School Teaching

Are you a Sunday school teacher? Would you be if you were not married to the pastor? It's that time of year - Sunday school starts up next week at our church and the teacher-recruitment phase is in full swing. We've only been here a year but it looks like gathering teachers does not come easily.

So more than once someone has looked longingly at me and described the openings. No one has asked me exactly, just hoped in my direction that I would volunteer.

I'm not going to.

There is no chance that I will teach on a Sunday morning any time soon because I am a mess about 50% of the time just showing up and listening. Give me any responsibility apart from my kids and I might melt into a heap of crazy again.

I don't say all that to these folks. I just say I don't think I'll be able to do that. Thank you for teaching my children. It means a lot to me. I pray for you and I will say thank you and I will tell you how important your investment of time is for our family. God bless you, teachers.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Reconsidering, As Always

It's been a year since we moved to our current congregation. A good year. This church loves our family.

I am still haunted by the crazy at our last church. I have the occasional nightmare. Sunday mornings are usually stressful for me and I think it's a holdover from the anxiety I felt there.

It seems a few new readers have joined us here lately (welcome!) and I am so gratified. It is simultaneously heartbreaking and reassuring that so many people relate to my experience.

Sometimes I think it might be time to stop adding to adding to this blog. Maybe it would be good for me to move on. Other days I am so thankful for the support and encouragement I've been given here that I want to keep it going. And, of course, being the pastor's family has its peculiarities even in a healthy congregation.

Friday, July 22, 2011


I think I've mentioned before that we are living in a parsonage now. Mostly I love it. It's a nice house, well-cared for, and I'm generally happy not to be responsible for fixing things.

However. There's always a however. The nuances of "my" home belonging to the church (which means it belongs to everyone and no one in particular) and being across the parking lot from the church building and drawing from the same tightly-squeezed budget that everyone is trying to stretch so salaries can be paid... I don't have to repair the roof but there are other things to think about.

There are things I would be trying to do to this house if I owned it but that's not for us to decide. The church budget doesn't have any wiggle room right now so any money spent on our house -- especially for major improvements -- seems like it is taking away from something 'more important'. Sometimes it's like living on a commune, but we're the only ones whose personal living space must balance with the greater good.

Any of you live(d) in a parsonage? How do you handle the gray area around what is good for your family and what is good for the church?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Control Freak? I Believe That's Me.

I had an unexpectedly good morning today. I wasn't expecting it to be bad, but I really felt quite well. I went for a bike ride (big deal when you have three kids) and made a lot of phone calls that have been on my to-do list for weeks. When I picked my two older kids up from day camp I was feeling quite in control of my life.

I love to feel in control of my life.

An hour later my son was having a tantrum and the afternoon spun away from me in a hurry. Kids going crazy. Mom yelling and going generally berserk. I roll my eyes at my crazy kids and wonder how they can be so disrespectful and then finally it occurs to me that maybe there's a better way to handle this.

I just have a very hard time giving them space and letting them act like obnoxious little kids. Most of it is normal and we'd all be better off if I could ignore it.

The main thing seems to be that I want to be able to make things right. My oldest child is seven years old and for seven years I've been trying to find just the right schedule, sleep pattern, nutritional balance, way of talking about feelings, so on and so forth .... that will make our lives happy and bright.

Meanwhile - the negotiations for selling our house are going just haywire enough to make us uncertain the deal will make it all the way to closing. And I am changing my eating habits in an effort to lose weight. It's motivated by my recent bout with cancer and an urgent desire to minimize the risk of another chronic illness. Lingering side-effects from chemo are complicating my efforts.

So, you know, I'm working hard to do everything right. And things are still going wrong. I am alarmed by how easily I topple over the edge. Tonight I left the house because I kept wanting to cry. It reminded me of the unrelenting sadness of depression.

I suppose I could be encouraged that leaving the house for a while is helping.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Get Rid of the %$#! House

We have been trying to sell our house for a year. A YEAR. A long year of paying the mortgage every month.

Great news: We sold the house!

Bad news: We haven't closed yet and the list of things we need to spend money on just keeps growing and growing and growing.

We're losing money on the house, of course. We're selling it for quite a bit less than we paid for it. And the inspector found a few things that we needed to repair. And the buyer has a government loan so the government has another list of things that need to be repaired. And in the meantime the water heater exploded. Blah, blah, blah...

It's not a desperate financial crisis. We *can* pay for these things. We're not going hopelessly into debt. I am very thankful for that.

It is an emotional crisis. I just want to be cut off from all the responsibilities connected to the church my husband was serving there. At every setback I want to call the sr. pastor and tell him a bill is in the mail and by the way I'M STILL MAD AT YOU! We have paid so much in time, money, grief, mental & emotional & spiritual health because of the abuse in that church's leadership.

It makes me realize how powerful the undertow of depression is and how close I am to the shoreline. Most of the time I feel like my mental health is safe but when these stressors -- the ones connected specifically to our last church -- stack up, I feel like I might go under. It takes a lot of conscientious effort to keep my head up. God has been merciful to hold me together so far.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


One of the things God has taught me and my husband during these creepy years is how important it is for the pastor to be a pastor - spiritual caregiver - rather than a business manager. It's hard to do. There is a lot of business to be done in a church and it's a trick to stay focused on pastoral care there is a budget crisis or a building project.

The DOXOLOGY program has been very helpful on that front. It's helped my husband think more clearly about his role as a pastor, it's helped me understand what he's doing and why (anyone else ever feel just a tiny bit resentful of church?), and it's given us some time to think about our own spiritual needs.

We'll be at the DOXOLOGY reunion in early August. Anyone else?