110_0287So, I had an interesting week.

As some of you know, Kelli and I have often been sick on our February birthdays. I think it’s hereditary.

I was not sick on this year’s birthday. No, I was very healthy, but I did manage to start the day watching someone run into my car. Not a big deal, some nasty scrapes (the car that is, not me .)

I went to Chicago twice. Once with a friend and once with the fam.

I ate at the Walnut Room (at Macy’s)which had its roots back in the 1800’s when a clerk in the millinery  department started bringing chicken pot pies to her customers to keep them full while they shopped.

We could’ve gotten pot pies on Wednesday, too, but instead opted for quiche – which was very good as was the Frango Mint chocolate ice cream pie.











The next day I went back down to Chicago with Kelli and the kids where we met Ruth (Kelli’s mother-in-law) at the Art Institute. Being that Ruth is an artist, she had a lot of tidbits to share with the kids to keep them interested and educated.

110_0292Of course there are the


 miniature rooms (you couldn’t use flash, so this is rather dark). The rooms depicted many different states and many different countries and were unbelievable in detail. For those who haven’t seen them, I can’t tell you exactly how big the rooms were, but I’m guessing a foot and a half to two feet square. (Just a guess.)

We ate in the Garden Cafe and between the looking and the learning and the eating, we were there for about five hours, so some of us occasionally took a break.



My personal favorite part of the Institute was the Yousef Karsh photography display. Mr. Karsh specialized in black and white portraits where he focused on facial expressions. His portraits included Helen Keller, Eisenhower, Churchill and Castro. You kind of wonder.  Did Fidel call him up one day and ask him to come take his picture? Truly, however, the portraits were fascinating.

All in all as we thought back over the day, we agreed we had a good time.




I kind of miss my other blog (sometimes) and people have told me they’ve missed reading it for whatever reason.

I especially miss it when I’ve been somewhere that I’d like to share both experiences and pictures.

From the beginning, I’ve done this blog Monday – Friday, so I’ve decided that I’ll add the personal where-I’ve-been-and-what-I’ve-done stuff on weekends.

Not every weekend, because sometimes I haven’t been or done a thing.

I will continue to focus on ministry Monday – Friday.


dsc_0071Many churches give small gifts to visitors, but we talked to one pastor who went a step further.

Visitors were asked to fill out visitor’s cards and drop them in the offering plate.

When ushers collected the cards, they immediately left for the visitor’s house gift in hand, while church was still going on.  (This was a small church, so there weren’t dozens of new families each Sunday – just one or two.) 

Gift baskets had been prepared, thanking the family for coming to church. (Baskets could include anything you’d like – a loaf of cranberry bread, a restaurant gift certificate, a book, etc.)

The unusual thing about this welcome idea, is when the family gets home, the welcome gift is waiting for them.


As some of you know and some of you don’t, my dad was a marriage counselor. He and my mom traveled across the country doing Adventure in Family Living Seminars. His Adventures in Family Living Radio program was heard on 800 stations.

Because one of the keys to being a great pastor and pastor’s wife  is having a great husband and wife relationship. I thought I would occasionally post something from his seminars.

dsc_0115Remember – marriage is a team effort and you’re both on the same team.

Some words to think about …


“I admit I made a mistake.”


“You did a good job.”


“What is your opinion?”


“If you please …” (Although Ken would’ve said “as you wish,” since he was a Princess Bride fan.)


“Thank you.”




I think I already told this story on one of my blogs – but so be it. It made an indelible impression on my young mind.


Yesterday I wrote that being a pastor’s wife gives you access to strange people.

Well, actually we’re all a little strange, but trust me, I wasn’t talking about YOU!

I was talking about people like the Jenkins family who started attending my dad’s church when I was about three or four.

Actually, they seemed very unstrange at first. They had three teenaged boys and a little girl, Janny, who was about my age. Immediately, they began getting involved in church activities and seemed very anxious to be friends with my parents.  Since they lived in the country, they had a garden and often brought my parents fresh vegetables and eggs.

OK, nothing more than neighborly kindness. Right? They seemed like a nice, normal family.

But then they started giving me clothes. Cute dresses and play outfits. These weren’t hand-me-downs from Janny, but new clothes.  If it had been one dress on my birthday and one at Christmas, that would’ve been one thing, but they continued giving stuff to our family.  The stuff started getting more expensive – like a beautiful quilt they gave to my mom one Sunday.

When Dad decided he wanted to have a church picnic, the Jenkins said we should all come out to their house.

Which we did – they had a huge yard and a pond. A picture taken that day shows me and Janny sitting in a field of wildflowers, the sun shining on our curls – so precious.  (OK, I was three!)

Shortly after the picnic, however, one of the Jenkin’s boys was arrested – and then another. Seems as if the family had quite a shoplifting ring going. The parents and the boys would take stuff.  Sweet, innocent, four-year-old Janny would be the lookout, letting her older siblings and parents know when someone was coming. The stuff they gave to us (except for the vegetables and eggs) was stolen merchandise.

They soon disappeared from church, but not from the police reports in the newspaper. One or the other or all of them were in and out of jail as regularly as clockwork.

Many years later, after we had moved to Illinois (actually probably about 15 years later), we went back to see my grandmother in New Jersey.  On the way, we stayed overnight with some friends from our Pennsylvania church. As we were sitting around enjoying a piece of pie. Our host showed my parents an article in the day’s newspaper.

Not surprisingly, two Jenkins boys had been arrested for stealing.



dsc_01261. People think you can play the piano.

2. Late night phone calls don’t necessarily mean a family member is ill.

3. Some people ask you strange questions. (“YOU pay taxes? I thought pastors didn’t have to pay taxes.)

4, You know a lot of quick recipes.

5. You have at least five lessons in your brain that can be taught to any age group of children at any moment.

6. People think you like coffee.

7. You get to meet a lot of cool people and be involved in their lives.

8. You get to go to cool places (Cuba, Montana).

9. Sometimes you’d like to stay in the cool places and never come back.

10. You hurt when someone criticizes your husband.

11. People think you can sing and should therefore be part of the choir/worship team.

12. Your husband can arrange his schedule to go to parent/teacher conferences and school plays.

13. Your husband is called to the hospital on the worse weather night of the year or during Easter dinner.

14. Your kids hear the same Bible teaching at home that they do at church – it’s consistent.

15. You smile – a lot.

16. You love hearing your husband preach.

17. You meet some strange people. 

18. You know that fellowship dinner, potluck dinner, carry-in dinners and church suppers are all the same thing.

19. You know it’s a good thing you like casseroles, any color jello mixed with Cool Whip and chocolate cake.

20. You can say the books of the Bible super fast. 

21. You know there are three kinds of kids in the world: PKs (preacher kids), MKs (missionary kids) and OKs (ordinary kids).

22. Your kids know that when dad comes home from a counseling session and says something like, “Don’t ever get involved in drugs,” that the person he just counseled has a child on drugs.

23. You know how to keep a secret.

24.  You can explain how to play at least two dozen baby/wedding shower games.

25. You know you’re doing what the Lord wants you to be doing.



Ephesians 4:32  – Be kind and compassionate to one another.


Fifty-five cents.

Sometime we forget how a little kindness can make a big difference.

Like this last week.

I had stopped at Walgreens for some shampoo and took my purchase up to the cosmetic counter. One lady was in front of me, and the friendly clerk was chatting with her as she rang up the customer lady’s items.

I wasn’t paying much attention, but was looking at some hand lotion that was in a little display case at the side of the counter, but then I noticed that the customer lady was taking a very long time. I looked. Several dollar bills were on the counter, but she was rummaging through her purse for some coins. I went back to the hand lotion display. I often throw change in my purse and then hunt around for it while standing at a counter, so I wanted to be patient.

But then I heard the customer lady sigh and say, “I don’t have it. I’ll have to go home and get the rest of the money.”

“How much do you need?” I asked.

The clerk answered. “Her bill was $8.55. She’s looking for the 55 cents.”

I pulled some change out of my coat pocket and mixed in that change were two quarters and a nickel.

“Here,” I said, putting it down on the counter. “Fifty-five cents.”

“Oh,” said customer lady. “Thank you. Thank you. Oh, I can’t believe you would do that for me. Thank you so much. What a blessing you are!.”

She stared at me and then burst into tears. “I’m on disability and I just don’t have money anymore. I used to work and make a lot of money.” She sobbed some more.

“It’s ok,” I said. “I’m glad I could do it for you.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you. I can’t believe your kindness.”  She picked up her bag and left, a smile on her face.

Fifty-five cents.


dsc_0472Many churches announce the birth of a new baby by putting a flower in a bud vase and placing it somewhere at the front of the church so everyone can see it.

One church takes this a step further. They have purchased several real-looking, artificial roses. When someone trusts Christ as Savior, one of the roses is put in a vase in front of the church. This might be someone within the church or someone a church member led to the Lord at work or in the neighborhood. (The person the rose represents doesn’t have to attend the church.)

I think this is an especially cool idea when boys and girls accept the Lord in one of the church ministries such as Awana. Often people don’t realize that a lot of evangelism is happening at the behind-the-scenes activities. This is a great way to let the congregation know that people are being reached for Christ and that a lot is happening in the various church ministries.

(I think the reason they used artificial roses was so they could keep them on hand and use several at one time.)


Any pastor who’s been through the candidating process knows how stressful it is.

Not only are a few interviewers watching you – but an entire church is watching  you, your wife and your two-year-old who has enough energy for 26 adults and your 13 year-old who is in the slumpy phase of life.

And they’re not only looking for your leadership skills and your computer skills, but the way you talk, the way your kids behave and whether or not you have a dog. (Oh, and does your wife play the piano and drink coffee?)

Let’s just say – it can be crazy.

I remember the Sunday morning that three people from Central (THE search committee) visited our church in Racine to listen to Ken in person. Afterwards we went out to eat to get to know each other better – a scene set up for a nerve convention.

But the nerves weren’t there. We chatted and laughed and left the restaurant knowing we had made new friends.

And they remained friends – especially Ken and Sonja Zilly. Ken (my Ken) went out to breakfast with them almost every Thursday and I often felt jealous because I was at work and couldn’t go with him.  (And of course, they were Cub fans, so that made it all the better.) I wrote so many thank-you notes to the Zilly’s over the years for things they did for us, that I had the Zilly-thank-you note memorized and I always ended with “and most of all thanks for being our friends.”

Even though most of the participants in my Ken’s memorial service were family, it seemed fitting for Ken Zilly to welcome everyone and lead off the service in prayer.  (All these Kens are getting confusing in this post.)

When Kelli and I heard that Ken had fallen a few weeks before Christmas, we went over to see the Zillys  and had a great visit.

A few days after Christmas I saw them again and I could tell that Ken wasn’t gaining strength.

Tomorrow I’ll be going to his memorial service.

Because now Ken is home with the Lord – maybe talking to  my Ken – and sharing a heavenly breakfast together.

And I am glad I had the privilege of knowing him.

Ken Zilly was one of those people that make being a pastor (and pastor’s wife) a joy.


Probably the biggest difference I’ve ever encountered happened in Indiana. (Is this true all over the state, Kristy?)

Ken was in seminary and when you’re husband is in seminary, you know a lot of families who are expecting babies.

Anyhow, I was invited to a baby shower. That sounded like fun, so I went.

We played one of those typical baby shower games and I won. So the hostess handed me a prize all wrapped up in pretty paper – I think it was a photo cube.

Being very shy and not yet knowing a lot of the ladies, I enthusiastically appraised the gift, saying how much I needed a place to put some new pictures we had received.

I put the cube under my chair by my purse. I noticed everyone looking at me funny and that made me feel awkward, but I had no idea why. 

We played another game. Someone else won. She got a prize all wrapped up. She opened it and then went over to the guest of honor and handed it to her. That puzzled me. I watched the next prize-winner. Same thing. By the end of the evening, I realized that prizes were purchased with the guest-of-honor in mind, not the prize-winner herself.

That’s just what they did at baby showers there.  I felt super stupid. I thought back to my “thanks” and how I had gone on and on about having just the right pictures for the cube. No wonder everyone had stared at me – it wasn’t my gift. I didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing. Now I probably would’ve laughed and said, “Oh, I was supposed to give this to you. I’m sorry. I haven’t heard of giving your prizes to the guest of honor before. We didn’t do that where I used to live.”

Then – at least I knew what to do at the other showers I attended.

Again, it’s hard to know what to tell people because you don’t which of the things you do are different from what everyone else is doing.

But don’t hesitate to over explain to the new pastor and his wife (or any family who has moved from out of town). Better to tell them something they might already know rather than take the chance they’ll be embarrassed.