Ordination Service: A Wife’s Perspective

A Wife's Perspective
Growing comfortable being a Sunday widow, I watched you walk to the front of the room just like I had countless times before. But, this time it was different. You left my side, stalk up in your heavy way of walking that has earned you the nickname Strider, and stood beside Pastor Jarrett. Steve Martin, Steve Garrick, and my father (looking a bit Balin-ish) joined you. Jarrett said a few words and then one by one they laid their hands on you and started to pray.
I started crying. I hadn’t planned on crying today. I didn’t expect to cry. Tear up? Yes. Weep? Nope. I couldn’t hold back. I couldn’t stop. Tears streamed down my face. Emily Shiflet, who drove up from Houston to witness this great event, put her arm around me. I wept.

But, these were not sad tears. These weren’t happy tears. They were mingled tears.

There was more joy in this situation than I can ever express. I have had a front row seat in my husband’s life. I have seen his great sin, his many faults, and the great grace he has been shown. I have known him when our marriage was falling apart, and when we were putting it back together. I have walked at his side when he was asked to teach, and when he kept teaching despite the long hours of study it took, despite the cut in pay it took, despite the lack of any sort of consistent day off it required, despite the hours I never saw him. I have prayed for him and with him. I have studied him both as my husband, and as a fellow church member to see if he was qualified.
It has been my husband’s dream to be a pastor since he was a kid. And here we are. It hasn’t been an easy road. It’s been a road filled with sin, pride, the work of sanctification, patience from others, self-sacrifice, self-doubt, sleepless nights, long conversations, encouragement, critiques, and grace upon grace upon grace.


I wept tears of joy to see my husband get to step into the role he’s always dreamed of filling. I wept tears of joy because God worked it all out in his timing, which was so much better than ours. I wept tears of joy because God promised to gift his churches with pastors and teachers, and today he kept that promise yet again. He’d raised up a young man to continue to shepherd our church. And, I wept cause just a month ago, I don’t think my Dad would have been able to be there. To see him standing there, gripping my husband’s shoulder, was joy upon joy. I wept tears of thankfulness.
But, there was a tinge of sadness to those tears. While my husband took the role of pastor on his shoulders, while the older men prayed around him, while the church watched and prayed, I had a deep sense of missing two men. I deeply, heart-achingly, trustingly missed my extra Dad. Price was being ordained and Vidal was no longer with us. Oh, how thrilled and proud he would have been to see his son called as a pastor of our church. To see Price standing there would have probably made Vidal cry, but it was a moment I know Vidal longed to see. The Lord, in all his kind wisdom, chose to take Vidal home before he got to see this great moment.
The other man I missed was Ron Baines. Ron took Price under his wing early on. They shared a great love of the Old Testament, and Ron pushed Price to go to seminary. Ron was one of Price’s greatest cheerleaders. Again, I wept because I knew Ron would have been thrilled. Ron would have been one of the men up there praying over this new pastor, but, the Lord, in all his kind wisdom, chose to take Ron home before he got to see great moment.
So, I cried and cried. Happy and sad tears, trusting tears overflowing with the grace of God, trusting his timing and providence, for he is God and knows all things, sees all things, and I’m but a weary creature.
There was such a huge amount of joy wrapped up in this moment. Getting to see my husband’s dream come true was one of the most fulfilling moments in my life. My love for him has only grown. I’m so proud of him, so thankful for him, so happy for him.
Our church has endured persecution of late. Price being ordained was encouraging. Christ proved through this that he was still with us, still tending us, still gifting us, still faithful to us. We weren’t cut off, we weren’t lost. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, were still together. My Dad has been on sabbatical due to some, honestly, scary heath issues, and not only was he able to be there yesterday, but, Christ hasn’t left everything in Jarrett’s lap. Dad had to step back from his duties, but in God’s perfect timing and providence, Price was brought in. Price has been faithfully serving for five years and wasn’t a raw recruit. He wasn’t a greenie. God worked it out perfectly so that when Dad had to step back, Price came to the table with experience. It was an amazing thing to see the love of Christ for his bride.
So my husband is officially an elected elder of our church, and an ordained minister.
I’m tired, but happy. I’m filled with joy to stand beside this man through life, to every day, when I cook, clean, iron, pay bills, enter accounting info, water plants, vacuum, and manage all of life, to serve my pastor, and by serving him, I’m serving the church.
I believe every women who diligently keeps her home serves her church. I believe that with my whole heart. My service just because a little more tangible, that’s all.
Pray, dear sibling-saints, pray for your pastors. They bear a great burden. They have a great love for the flock. The sacrifice much of this world for the sake of the next. Pray for them. They defend us from the wolves within and without. Pray for them.

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Soapbox: Is Art an Idol?

 

Life is full of art, don't miss it.
Image from Pixabay. Edits by me.

The other day I saw a quote on Pinterest that got tangled up in my brain. No amount of wishing, or thinking, or pondering sponged it away. I batted at it. Hissed at it. Ignored it. It only crossed its arms, stuck out its tongue, rolled its eyes, and remained. So, dear readers, I’m going to write about it. I’m going to write about it because it irritated me so much. I found it so offensive, I couldn’t let it go.

The bad part? I didn’t save it. I can’t find it. I’ve looked and searched all over Pinterest and the internet for it. No such luck. (I must be out of faerie dust.) I can’t give you the exact quote. You’ll have to trust my memory and live with the gist of the quote instead of the exact words.

Here’s the quote that sent me into a tailspin:

You’re an artist. Your art is more important than spotless dishes or a meal for a neighbor. Make your art.

(The wording was a little more “artistic” than that, but that’s basically what it said.)

What?

You’re art is more important than spotless dishes or a meal for your neighbor? Since when did art become the god of our society? Of our hearts? We’ve made art our idol. In our culture if it’s art, if it’s your art, no one can say otherwise. No parent, teacher, spouse, child, or any one can tell you anything negative about the amount of time and effort you put into your art. If they dare, they’re squashing your spirit. “Nobody needs that kind of negativity in their lives.”

That’s the artist culture. That’s that kind of things artist tell other artists.

How selfish can we be? How self-absorbed?

Instead of making sure my family has clean dishes, I should let them get sick because my writing is more important than their health. If my neighbors or friends are struggling, I’m off the hook on helping them cause I wanted to write this morning? The fake people in my head are more important than the real people around me?

This is the kind of thing people pin when they’re feeling guilty about how they’re treating fellow human beings. Art isn’t more important than people. Art isn’t the height of human experience. It is a gift, a part of human experience. It is one of the many facets that make us human.

Everything in life is art.

Many women think they aren’t artistic, but their homes are beautifully decorated and very welcoming. They love to host teas and shower people with food and drink. I know women who don’t think they’re artistic who make beautiful quilts, or sew their own clothes, or grow beautiful gardens. I know women who cook healthy and delicious meals. All of that is art. Every element of life is art. Have you ever worked on a project where you didn’t have the choice of creating beauty?

You make choices. Choices are the root of creativity.

Painting, drawing, writing, and music aren’t the only art forms. They don’t sit up on a higher pedestal than someone who can raise chickens. They communicate emotionally to the soul, yes, but so does a tree. So does a well landscaped front yard. So do clean dishes.

Once we start regulating art to only painting, drawing, writing, and music, once we see it as only something a few of us can do, and once we see it as more important than all of life, we’ve made it a god. And any god other than God is a tyrant.

Try it. Try putting art above all and watch your marriage crumble. Watch your children grow up alone and filled with bitterness. You may create beautiful things, the world may sing your praises, but they will go home to their safe, warm beds where someone took the time to do the laundry (another art form) and they will sleep peacefully together.

Don’t make a gift from God an idol. Don’t let it run your life to the detriment of everything else, and don’t sell yourself short. Open your eyes to the art that is all around you! Don’t believe the lie that only a few special people are artistic. (Granted, there are a few special people who are Michelangelo, but only a few. And artist like him do give up almost all for their art. Make sure this is what you want to do.) If you’re making a choice, you have the chance to be creative. Creativity is often useful, found in the home, and welcoming to those around us. Creativity isn’t afraid to sacrifice for others. If you have an artistic gift, use it. Use it in all of life, but don’t believe the lie that all of life should bow down before your art form of choice.

“I’m an artist!” they exclaim loudly.

Art, artistic-ness, creativity, on a certain level is ordinary. You aren’t a special unicorn who magically has art that some suburban mom raising three kids while managing her home doesn’t have. You paint, or write, or make music, or YouTube videos, while she washes clothes, getting spots out that are unidentified. She makes meals that both taste good and are nourishing. She cleans a house quickly and efficiently. She spends her free time teaching her daughter to sew. Or maybe she just enjoys taking pictures of her girls. She manages budgets, meals, laundry, and education. She oversees the decorating and improving of all that is around her. Every element of her life is art, for she is making choices every moment of every day for beauty instead of squalor.

Artists hate to think of themselves as ordinary.

This world hates to think of anything, especially ourselves as ordinary, but we must find balance between the ordinary and the unicorns, or we miss out on the magic of this life.

Because art speaks so strongly to the soul, we want to believe it is special. But, if we’re not careful all we do is take away the beauty of the every day. We take away enjoying a sunrise on our back porch with a cup of coffee. We take away the joy of the art of making a good cup of coffee because that’s something most of us do every day. We lose the art of the home when we say the home isn’t a well spring of creativity. If art is only regulated to one or two extra-gifted people, then the rest of life becomes a gray monotony of boredom.

If art is in every choice, if every choice is seen as a chance to grasp at beauty, to be creative, then the world around us, the mundane, becomes magical. We begin to share different artistic gifts. You make quilts. I write stories. She bakes cakes. He grows roses. We can share, bathe, in the beauty of different gifts. The mundane again, becomes magical.

Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t make art more than it is, and don’t miss out on the art around you. It’s not an idol. It’s a gift. Use it. Enjoy it. Seek it out in its brown garb and its golden gown. See both! Open your eyes to the joy of spotless dishes and a meal created in love and shared with others. There is your art, my dear friends. There is the art of the everyday. There is the artist in us all.

Quote taken from The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer.
Quote taken from The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer.

 

 

 

Lessons From Being Sick: Saying No and Social Anxiety

Suffering from anything chronic changes how you look at life.
Image from Pixabay, edits by me.

I’m pretty strictly an ISFJ. I love to help people. I like to be part of team. I love my family and love my church. So, when people ask me to do something I say, “Yes”. I say yes even if I don’t have time. I say yes, even if inside I’m screaming, “No”. I say yes even if it means saying “no” to my husband, or my responsibilities. I hate saying no. When I do HAVE to say no I tend to couch it in lots of explanations and excuses so that the person I have to say no to understands how painful it is for me to say no.
When I was first sick, saying no was the lesson I had to learn. I didn’t have some disease with a big, scary name. I was exhausted. Worn down to the core. My doctor doesn’t have a bunch of letters after her name, she’s a kenisiologist. So even though I was very sick, it was hard to explain to people what exactly was wrong with me. On top of that, I was the Go-To person. We don’t have children, so I was the one asked to do everything. Here I was, sick, unable to shower some days, still get text from people wanting me to do something, people loving me and wanting to include me. The asking ratcheted up my stress level. I started leaving my phone hidden. I stayed away from Facebook. Anything that smacked of someone needing anything from me made me even more exhausted. When I say I had nothing left to give, I mean I had nothing left to give. When I say I couldn’t even manage a shower, I literally somedays couldn’t take a shower.
As I started getting better, by God’s grace, I was able to take some time to reprioritize my life. I realized how easy it would be to fill every day with a social activity. I would be so easy for me to give every moment of my time to someone else. (And by someone else, I mean be out of my home with people I love.) There is nothing wrong with a busy social life. But, I had to look at my husband, my responsibilities at home, and my social life as a whole, within my new physical limitations. Sadly, that means I have to keep saying no. I have to say no to people I love so that I can get my work done.

Social events are exhausting to anyone dealing with a chronic issue.
Picture from Pixabay, edits by me.

I started by limiting myself to only a few social engagements, that didn’t include my husband and church, a month.
On one hand, I need to make sure I know what my priorities are: husband, home, church. To me those three things are actually one thing. I serve my church predominantly by taking care of my husband so he can serve the church. I take care of my husband by taking care of our home. So, when I take care of finances, wash the dishes, meal plan, work in the yard, vacuum, and all the rest, I’m helping my husband, who is using that time to help our church.
On the other hand, most of my socializing is with other women in the church who I treasure greatly. My closest friends are other women in my church, or other ARBCA churches. I want to have time for them. I want to have time for my nieces and nephews. I love those little ones running around. I love being with them. I love watching them grow up. I want to be involved in their lives.
So, I have my priorities, and I have the people I love who I want to be with. I have to find the balance between these things. LOL. Can you see why I have a hard time saying no??? Do you see why I’m afraid that if I say no one too many times, maybe people will stop asking? Do you see why I’m afraid that if I say No someone I love will think I don’t love them? This is why I have a hard time saying no.
But, I can’t do it all. Trying to do it all is what got me in trouble in the first place.
I must continue to evaluate every day the priorities. I have to look at the offer on the table, look at the needs of my home, look at what my husband has going on, and then figure out when and how to fit it in. I have learned to see if I can have friends over and have them help me. I have learned to say yes, but if I have to put it off for a few weeks to be comfortable with that. I have learned to trust that my friends will still be there when I can get together with them . . .even if it’s months later than when they asked.
There is one other element in all this saying no when I don’t want to. Nothing seems to wear me out faster than social events.
Before I got sick, social events were parties, weddings, showers…you know…social events. Now, social events are interacting with anyone. If I am talking to another human being, it’s a social event. Thankfully I’ve moved beyond that including my husband, unless I’m just doing really bad. I found this to be really hard to explain to people who have never dealt with a chronic disease. Talking, interacting, laughing, crying with people wears me out. That means not only do I have to say no, I also have to moderate my social interaction. Talking with others can drain me faster than cleaning the house. Now, please dear friends, don’t take this as me trying to ask people to stop talking to me. Please take this in the spirit it is intended: I’ve been sick, this is my life. I’m sharing.
If I need the world to go away, I can ask the world to go away. I can make plans, move things around, work things out. Understand, that if it seems like it takes me forever to set plans with you, it’s not because I don’t want to be with you. It’s that spending the evening with you may mean half the things my home needs done tomorrow aren’t going to get done.
There are people in this world with the gift of saying no. There are people in this world gifted with loads of energy. Then there are others of us whose gifts lie in other areas. There are those of us whose bodies loose energy quickly. I’m one of those without the gift of saying No confidently. As I’ve been sick, I’ve had to learn to say no.


Lesson’s from Being Sick, Part 1: How to Rest


Can you say no easily? Have you ever dealt with a chronic issue? Do you struggle to prioritize your life?
Let’s talk!

 

Learning how you rest is the first step to getting better.

Lessons from being Sick: How to Rest

Rest is so important. But how do we rest?
Back in 2013 when my husband and I sold our boutiques, I did a series of articles called Lessons from the Boutique. They cataloged what I brought home from my years as co-owner of two consignment boutiques.
2015 began with me getting sick. The ten years we’d owned the boutiques, I ran on adrenaline. Constant adrenaline. When we sold them, I started doing all the things I’d never gotten to do. I jumped in the deep end of family, church, and writing. Go. Go. Go. More and more adrenaline. I even knew I was doing this. I knew I needed to stop, but I didn’t know how.
(Just writing that gives me anxiety.)
January 2015, my body gave up. It shut down. I couldn’t move off the couch. Reading took too much energy. Showering took too much energy. Conversations drained me. My church had to cook and clean for me. Life had changed, and changed forever.
I struggled with depression. I cried over all the things I was missing. I hated being the weak one. I hated being the one who needed help. I hated saying no. I hated not getting to be part of the lives of everyone else. I felt cut off from everything I loved. Once in a while, I would get a breath of energy, which would immediately wear me out. Being happy wore me out. Being sad wore me out.
I spent the majority of 2015 laying on the couch just trying to eat healthy. That was it. That was all I could do. Stay clean, eat healthy, and try to make it to church. Life was small. Tiny.
2016 saw some progress. We discovered my body’s need for Vitamin B and red meat. So much red meat. I got off the couch and started, slowly, taking life back on. By the end of 2016, I had enough energy to get a small, part time job. It seemed horrible to me at the time to take what little energy I had and gave it to someone who wasn’t my church or my family. Now, I think it was a good idea. It got me out of the house, back in the world, back moving and going.
2017 was the year of anxiety. I had anxiety about everything, and had so much repenting and retraining to do. 2017 was the year of teaching myself double-entry accounting, new To Do lists, and the year to take back control of my home. I started working on my Command Center. I discovered the idea of making my homemaking a career. 2017 was the year of coming home, again.
2018 has started. It’s already almost the end of April. (This year is flying.) I’m not back to the energy level of my days of adrenaline. I don’t think I’ll ever have that much energy, and I don’t want to. I don’t want my body to crash again in a few years because I started back into everything. I don’t think my heart could take it. It makes it very clear when it’s tired. And I’ve learned to listen. I’ve learned to stop when my body says stop. I’ve learned, and am continuing to learn, to communicate to my husband when my body says no more.
Butt on couch, TV on, done.

How to rest when you're sick: faerie-stories.com
Image from Pixabay.

The first lesson from being sick? How to rest.

Resting is interesting. There are different types of resting just like there are different types of exhaustion.
Level 1: Being Tired. This is just every day, normal tired. This means that it’s been a busy day and I’m ready to be done with it.
Rest: Quiet evening and an early Bedtime. The best fix for this type of tired is to not have any after dinner projects, and get to bed about 930. If I’m consistent with this, I lay a good foundation for the coming day.
Level 2: Go Away. Being social can be exhausting. Running errands can be overwhelming. Getting dressed can seem like too much.
Rest: Hide. The best fix for this type of tired is to move my schedule around so that I don’t have to get dressed or go out. Generally, I don’t have to put all my work down during Level 2s. I just have to stay away from people. Sometimes, it only takes a couple hours of being alone to recharge. I never knew how exhausting being dressed and with people could be until I had limited energy.
Level 3. Done. This is when my chest starts to hurt, and my brain gets clogged. Everything overwhelms me. (My poor husband.) Every conversation, every decision, every chore, every commitment, everything overwhelms me.
Rest: Rest. The only fix for this is to move everything that can be moved, everything that doesn’t involve just staying alive, to a different day. This is when I spend hours in my PJs binge watching TV. This is when I re-watch my favorite shows. I usually can’t even read at these times, or on these days.
When I was first sick, my life was Level 3. As I got better, it was Level 3 and 2. Existing at Level 3 and 2 caused unexpected anxiety. Driving, getting out, the simplest errands, things I’ve done a thousand times, took a great amount of effort and planning.
Now, I’m mostly between Level 1.5 and Level 2/2.5. My Level 3s are hours instead of days, unless I’m coming down with something or had a major stressor. I couldn’t be more thankful for God’s generous kindness to me each day as I try to balance between all the ordinary demands of the world and my body’s abilities. The same is true of my husband, and all the friends who have stuck by me for years while I have had to hibernate.

Learning how you rest is the first step to getting better.
Image from Pixabay, edits by me.

Lessons:

Permission to Rest: I’ve spent my whole life working, working, working, working. I get up at 5:00am and hit the ground running. Honestly, I think I was quite proud of my work ethic. (Oh pride.) Now, I remind myself that sometimes the best way I can serve my church is by stopping. It isn’t going to help my husband, my home, or my family if I break down again. Instead, I admit that I have to stop, and stop. Not all rest is laziness.
What is Restful for Me: Pajamas and TV. There is something about watching TV that keeps me more down. If I try to read, I start thinking of everything I need to do. If I try to do on-the-couch-work, at Level 3, I can’t focus. If I sleep, I won’t sleep when I go to bed, and tomorrow will be worse than today. So, I watch TV. Sometimes, that’s just one episode and I’m good. Other times it’s six or ten.
Project Management: Before I got sick, I would start a project and I wouldn’t stop until I finished it. If that meant not eating for hours, even if I was starving, that was fine. No matter what, I didn’t stop.
Not anymore.
No matter the project, I stop, eat lunch, and watch an episode of whatever show I’m watching. If I start to feel tired, I take a break, go do something low-energy oriented. Sometimes, I’ll have several projects going at once because I have to do what I feel like doing.


Resting is stopping when my body says stop, resting how it’s restful for me, and taking breaks. I don’t push through things anymore. I don’t plow through life. I stop.
It took me years and years to learn this lesson. In fact, I had to get very sick to learn to stop just going and going. My husband, and my friends helped me learn that resting is how I take care of them. It doesn’t help my hubby if I go all day and don’t have the energy to make him dinner. Or if I push and push until I breakdown in tears and have a huge Level 3 relapse. It doesn’t help my church if I overdo it during the week and miss church on Sunday. Sometimes this does happen. I’m thankful people are gracious.
THE POINT:
Learn to rest.
Listen to your body.
Find out what is rest to you.
Learn the difference between needing rest and being lazy. Don’t be lazy. Rest when you need to.
Take a break.
Don’t push through.
Eat what your body needs.
I learned to rest through the journey of being sick for two years. Today, I continue the work of dealing with my new abilities, my limits, and my smaller world.


Have you ever dealt with a life changing sickness? How about a life altering event? How did you process how to deal with this? What helped you carry on?

Meet the Muse: Constance

_MG_7207
Picture by Alethia Young.

Constance has been one of my muses from early on. In fact, it is her muddy fingers that often grace the start of one of my Texas Cousins Adventure Stories.

I’ve been itching to write one of these again, so keep an eye out.

Constance, you are beautiful, smart, and have the heart of a mother. I love watching you with your baby sister, and any of the other babies in the family. I hope that you continue to use that gift to take care of the little ones around you. I miss you more than I can say, and am excited anytime I get to see you. I hope you have a wonderful year! Happy Birthday my dear dear Constance!

Meet the Muse: Shannon

_MG_7215
Photo by Alethia Young.

Happy happy birthday Shannon. I love you so much. You hardly know me, but you don’t hesitate to let me hold you and carry you around every time we get to be together. You are such a pretty little girl. I love your smile. I love to watch you run around exploring your world and taking in your huge family. I’m so so glad God blessed us with you. Happy birthday little one!

Meet the Muse: Jude

This little bundle of energy turns four today. Jude is one of my favorite little people of all time. He’s all boy, but he’s also super sweet, precise, and so funny.

I love having him in my Texas Cousins Adventures, but more than that, I love having him in my life. Our family is made better with Jude in it!