MONDAY MORNING MOTIVATOR

Maybe this hasn’t been the greatest week for you. Maybe a family has left the church (deciding to go to the mega-church down the street), or four people told you they’ve changed their minds about working in children’s ministry this fall or a young girl in youth group has been diagnosed with leukemia. Whatever it is, you’re not feeling particulaly peaceful right now.

Here’s a great verse:Isaiah 26:3 – You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.

I like that verse – but a thought went through my mind. What is perfect peace? Can you really have imperfect peace? I mean would you really have peace if peace isn’t perfect?

I got out the Hebrew interlinear Bible and looked up the word peace. My discovery was surprising. The word translated “perfect” is the exact same Hebrew word as the one translated “peace.”  The verse literally says ” You will keep him in peace peace him whose mind is steadfast …”

Now I was curious, what did “steadfast” mean?” The Hebrew concept in that verse is “propped up.” 

Remember back when people actually hung their clothes on a line in the backyard? Moms would put a “prop” pole in the middle of the line to hold it up. Steel beams built into the foundations of buildings prop up the floors above. I physically prop up my head by leaning my chin on my hand.

Think about it. So often when we’re discouraged or sad or overwhelmed, we put our head down. But God is there and we can lean on Him. He is literally propping up our minds. He is spiritually propping up our heads. It’s almost as if God is saying, “Chin up.”

So, if you’re feeling the day-after-Sunday, Monday-morning-blues, remember that God promises to prop up your mind and give you peace.

Rest in Him.

WHAT TO SAY WEDNESDAY

Here’s something that will happen to every pastor’s wife at one time or another and probably a whole billion amount of times. Someone will ask you a question about someone else and YOU WILL KNOW THE ANSWER, but the information is confidential.

For instance, Church Lady Ida comes up to you after church and asks, “Is Young Church Lady Megan pregnant?”

OK, you KNOW that YCLM IS pregnant because she TOLD you she was, but she also told you to keep it a secret. (Pastor’s wives get to know lots of secrets.)

If you say, “I don’t know,” you aren’t telling the truth.

If you say, “no,” you also aren’t telling the truth.

If you say “I can’t tell you,” you’re admitting that she is because if she wasn’t, you’d just say “no” or “I don’t know.”

Once again, questions can be your friend. Put your innocent pastor’s wife face on and say, “Why are you asking? Did you hear that she was?”  Hopefully Church Lady Ida will go off on why she thinks YCLM IS pregnant and you haven’t said a word.

Or if Church Lady Ida asks you if Mr. Davis lost his job (and you know that he did), ask “Oh, did you hear that from someone?” 

Of if Church Lady Ida asks you if the Jones are moving (and you know that they are) ask, “Why do you think that?”

In other words, you are taking the focus off your answer and asking them to answer YOUR question.

So, HAVE any of you been asked those kinds of questions?

FUN FRIDAY

 

 
Today's guest blogger is my daughter-in-law (who is 
also a pastor's wife) Cindy.  She's right - this is the appliance 
every pastor's wife must have - a crepe maker. 
Over the years I've made crepes with a staid women's group, high school kids and any time
we had company who
didn't know each other well. (Oh, and sometimes just to have fun!) Making crepes 
always, always gets people talking and laughing.  
Thanks to Cindy and the Northern Munchkin Cooking Show Crew.

 MAKING CREPES

Due to having a pastor's wife for a mother-in-law, I got a lot of good ideas for fun entertaining.  One of my favorites is having people over to make crepes. 
(And for a bonus, Linda bought me a crepe maker and cookbook for Christmas!)
Whether you invite a few people or 30 people, making crepes is an informal way
to have a gathering at your house.  Each person makes his or her own crepe, and
you can even ask everyone to bring a favorite dessert topping, creating quite a
variety of choices.  

Here's how to make a basic dessert crepe:

2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 cup water
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs butter, melted, plus 2 to 3 tsps for coating the pan


 
Toppings:  chocolate or strawberry sauce, candy (like M&M's, whoppers, peanut
butter cups, Andes candies, etc), fruit (strawberries, blueberries, bananas,
etc), maple syrup, jams, honey, nuts, whipped creme. . . .

Mix the ingrediants together, whisking until smooth.  Cover and refrigerate for 
at least 2 hours.  When you are ready to cook the crepes, thoroughly stir the
batter again.  Heat the crepe maker, butter the top, and then dip the crepe
maker into the batter. Set it back down on the counter, and wait about 1 minute,
or until the edges are turning brown.  With a spatula, slide the crepe onto a
plate.  


 Now comes the fun part.  Fill the crepe with ice cream and roll it up. (My kids
didn't take the time to roll the crepe--they just wanted to eat it.) Top the
crepe off with whatever kind of toppings you like.  

Even though only one person can make a crepe at a time, eveybody else is
talking, playing games, or watching the crepe making.  It's fun, easy on the
hostess, and everybody gets to make a great dessert.


 

JUST SO YOU KNOW …

Ken often went to funeral homes with grieving families. Sometimes because the people didn’t know anything about arranging a funeral. Sometimes simply because they wanted someone with them. 

I NEVER had to go with him when he went to the funeral home with a family, but knowing some things may come in handy for you.  (You could find yourself in a situation where a lady loses her husband and has no other relatives. Your husband may want you to come along if he’s helping her.)

Anyhow – FYI

1. All deaths must go through a funeral home whether the person is cremated, the service is at the home or at your church or if, (like Ken) you have a memorial service. 

2. Sometimes people (in their grief) spend more money than they can afford on expensive caskets and other “trimmings.” Some funeral directors will help the person chose the right one. Unfortunately, others “play” on people’s sorrow and encourage overspending. You probably can’t do much about this, but be aware, in case the person does look to you for guidance.

3. Death certificates are provided by the funeral home. I can’t remember – I think I got five free and then had to pay for the rest. The family will need a lot more than they think they do. (I think my cellphone company ended up with a whole file of them before they finally were convinced Ken no longer needed a cellphone.)

4. Here’s something many people don’t know. Obituaries are classified ads. That means that you pay for them – every line just like you would for any classified ad. (Many people think they’re news articles and free.) Obituaries often end up costing several hundred dollars.

5. Because obituaries are classified ads, you can say anything you want. You do not have to follow the template supplied by the funeral home. 

6. If the person isn’t old enough for social security, she won’t get social security. (Again, some people think that just because a spouse died, you receive social security. Not true.) However, you do need to contact the social security office because you will get a $225 death benefit. (That might not be the exact amount, but it’s close.) This will be enough to pay for the obituaries!!!

7. Encourage the person to call the mortgage company or the car loan company and ask what she needs to do. They’ll be glad to explain the process – and that’s a lot easier than showing up at the bank without the necessary paperwork, having to go home again and come back.

So – just some thoughts …

And – tomorrow – a little lighter as we do another Munchkin Cooking Show for FUN FRIDAY

WHAT TO SAY WEDNESDAY

You’re at the funeral – and you’re standing in line to greet the family – and dreading it because WHAT DO YOU SAY?

Once upon a time someone told me that a wise thing to do is relate a good memory about the person. This not only gives you something to say and eliminates the awkward what-do-I-say moment, but is meaningful to the family member.

“I’ll always remember your husband for working at the soup kitchen.”

“Remember that time your mother decorated for the spring banquet? EVERYTHING was yellow – even the food.”

“Did you know your dad sent me an encouraging note that night I messed up on my piano solo? That meant so much to me.”

I have done this many times and the family members always seem to appreciate it.

But sometimes you don’t know the person who died well enough to relate a memory. Sometimes I will just squeeze someone’s hand or give them a hug.  Or simply say, “I am praying for you and your family.”

When Ken died, a lot of people said to me, “Linda, I don’t know what to say.”  I didn’t mind that at all. That was a lot better than ignoring me (as some people did).

Sometimes I responded, “I don’t know what to say either,” because I often didn’t.

I remember a friend telling me that her mother had died and no one in her church said anything to her – not even the pastor – and that hurt.  So say something.

Let me just say that some people who talked to me at Ken’s memorial service kind of stammered over their words or what they said came out wrong. I didn’t mind. I understand that it’s hard. I’ve been on the other side of those kind of conversations often enough. So, don’t feel bad that you might have said something slightly goofy – just say something.

The worse thing I ever heard anyone say at a funeral?

An elderly looked at a young girl in an open casket and said to the mom, “Oh, she looks so healthy.”

WHAT ABOUT THE CAREGIVER?

Sometimes our focus is on the person who is sick and we forget about the caregiver. Often the caregiver is as housebound as the one who is sick and is also in the agonizing position of taking care of someone he or she loves. (And not sleeping as much as the patient.) Emotions get frazzeled as he or she desires to be the best caregiver possible.

How about a card for the caregiver or a bouquet of flowers or, if the patient can be by him or herself, a quick breakfast or lunch out.

Even a phone call to the caregiver can help.

When Ken got sick – everything in our life stopped! No longer did we go out to dinner or participate in many of our normal activities. He often would go to bed early (7:00) and didn’t want noise – so our house was dark and quiet. Because I was already emotionally edgy and dealing with the coming death of my husband, the dark and quiet house added to my despair.

Yes, I knew that the Lord is sovereign and in control and I was resting in that.  Sometimes all I wanted was to chat with someone for a little while. Yet, when people did call, they would quickly hang up saying, “I’m so sorry to bother you. I know you have so much to do.” Sometimes I wanted to scream, “STAY ON THE LINE.”

Probably the lowest moment was the night Ken wanted a foam-rubber mattress. I wanted to do what I could for him, to make him comfortable – so I rushed to Linen and Things. The night was misty and there wasn’t any music or background noise at the store. In fact, not too many people were there – and the combination of the empty store, the fogginess, the darkness and the quiet combined to make everything seem eerie.

I got home. I put the mattress on the bed and Ken immediately laid down and went to sleep. (The time was about 6:30.) The house was quiet and still and outside the fog floated against the window, isolating us. I let the dog out and instantly heard a strange bark. 

I opened the door – the silly dog had been sprayed by a skunk.Then I dumped a bunch of every kind of soap and cleanser I could find on him.  I sat on the floor and cried. I went upstairs and turned on the computer. A friend had just e-mailed me and when I e-mailed her back – she was still there. As were her husband and some other people I knew. Back and forth we e-mailed each other. Not about anything important – but that human contact was a lifesaver that night. Exactly what I needed.

So, don’t be afraid to give a call to the caregiver. Ask if it’s a good time to talk. Bring her up on the news she might’ve missed because she’s spending more time at home. Let her know you’re praying for her.

Let her know you care.

WHEN YOU FACE A TOUGH SITUATION

One of the most difficult parts of being a pastor’s wife is knowing what to say when someone is facing a tough situation – a serious illness or a death in the family. 

Having recently been through the death of my husband, I look at this issue with a little different perspective than I did when I actually was a pastor’s wife. (In the sense, that I understand what people need from a personal point of view.)

The Bible says: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2) Sometimes we want to do that, but don’t exactly know how.

(Before I go any further though, I want to emphasize that you don’t have to do all these things all the time. Sometimes I wasn’t involved at all. (Pastor’s wives usually aren’t allowed in the ICU.) Sometimes the only part I had in a funeral was to show up to support Ken. Other times, however, I was with Ken when he visited grieving families or took a bigger part in the funeral either because the person was a personal friend or someone who had no one to care. My point is, just because I’m listing a trillion things to do, does not mean that you will always DO a trillion things.)

Every situation is different, but I think a big mistake we make is thinking that people who are ill ONLY want to receive cards with lilies and crosses and flowery, calligraphy-written poetry .  Again, it depends on the situation – but sometimes people (even though they’re sick) would like to receive a cheerful note or card or a gift like a CD, etc. 

A lady in our church had cancer and was housebound. She didn’t want many visitors but did appreciate cards and notes. During the time she was sick, I was writing the middle school curriculum at work. I often found fun facts to begin the lessons – like how many acres of pizza Americans eat each year or that the name of the person who invented the basketball dribble. Along with the more serious parts of my notes I wrote to her, (and in this case, I wrote a lot) I included the middle-school fun facts. Her husband told me several times how much she enjoyed getting my notes because they made her smile.

Again – it all depends on the situation … but here are some ideas .

1. A verse that ISN’T in Psalm 23.  (Psalm 23 is a great chapter, but sometimes it is the easy portion of Scripture to add – rather than thinking through a favorite – but not so common verse – that’s meant a lot to you and could mean a lot for the person to whom you’re writing.)

2. A CD that has meant a lot to you.

3. A picture of you and the person that brings back a happy memory.

4. A note of appreciation of how much the person has meant to you. (I cannot tell you how much these notes meant to Ken.)

5. A funny DVD.

6. A picture or poster to put on the wall (whether at home or in the hospital).

Tomorrow – more ideas