DINNER WITH DISASTER

My dad, the pastor, had bad eyesight – in fact, he was legally blind. The light made a difference as to how well he could see.

One weekend we had a dinner at church – I think it had something to do with a missionary conference. The Church Ladies served ham and after the dinner was over, they gave my parents the leftovers. Which were plentiful (and which happens to pastors a lot).

Plentiful, enough, in fact, to last our family throughout the week. My mom broiled, fried, creamed and did everything she could to make each meal seem different.

One Friday night we were invited to a new family’s house for supper. We sat at an elegantly set table in their elegant home and the lady brought in an elegant platter of …

“Oh,” said my dad, “I sure am glad that isn’t HAM. I’ve had enough ham this week to last a lifetime.”

I was about 14 at the time and I could see IT WAS HAM and I know my mom ALSO could SEE THAT IT WAS HAM..

“Craig … Craig …,” she frantically whispered. “It IS ham.”

My dad quickly explained about the missionary conference ham.

But the damage was done.

Dad had about twenty-one servings, attempting to prove that he SINCERELY liked the lady’s ham.

And the family kept coming to church and even got to the place where they could laugh about my dad’s blunder.

FUN FRIDAY – MONKEY BREAD

Whenever we have a guest appearance of the Munchkin Cooking Show Crew – you KNOW the recipe is easy.

Here’s their DEBUT PERFORMANCE.

(I confess I bought crescent rolls rather than the biscuits and so used a different recipe than I usually do. This worked, but I like some of the other recipes a little better. But this was still delicious if you like sticky and gooey and cinnamony – which most people do.)

This is a quick recipe for a church Bible study or breakfast. (Monkey Bread always goes quickly.)

 

Here they are – ready to start cooking.

First we put our ingredients on the counter:

2 pck. PIllsbury crescent rolls

1 cup sugar

3 tsp. cinnamon

2 tbsp. butter

 1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup water

You also need a greased cake tube pan.

(The 6yo makes sure all the brown sugar is unclumped.)

 

Combine the sugar (white) and cinnamon in a plastic bag and thorougly mix together.

 

 

 

Then cut each crescent roll in half and roll into a ball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then you put the balls in the bag and shake so that all the dough balls are covered with cinnamon and sugar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and of course, it’s ok to lick your fingers now and then.

 

Meanwhile, microwave the butter, brown sugar and water until the butter is melted.

 

 

 

 

After all the balls are coated and placed in the pan, pour the warm mixture over the top.  

 

 

 

Put in the over at 325 degrees and bake for 30 to 45 minutes.

Yum! Quick and easy – and delicious.

 

Thanks to our cooking crew.  Enjoy.

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER?

A family you don’t know well has invited you to dinner and you’re terrified – you’ll have to help keep a conversation going for three or four hours! (Oh, yes, I’ve had those terrified feelings.) What can you say?

But once you walk into someone’s house, you have lots to talk about – just look around.

 Does the family collect something? I’ve been in homes with a model-train setup, collector dishes, pens, quilts, antiques … etc. Even if it’s a collection you’re not all that interested in – you CAN be interested and learn as much as you can about the subject.

My very “favorite” memory is the time we visited someone where the wife made wind chimes out of beads and (ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?) discarded plastic communion cups. She had made sixty of them and stored every single one of them in a different baggie – and she took every single one of them OUT of the baggie to show us – which meant we then had to watch her put all sixty BACK into the little baggies. 

Hmmmm … let me just say that after the fourth or fifth communion cup windchime – we were kind of speechless in knowing what to say. And guess what? I got to choose one for my very own!

But normally this plan works out OK. 🙂

Obviously, if the family has a collection, they’re interested in it and will be glad to tell you about it.

Other questions – 

1. How long have you lived here?

2. Do you like the neighborhood?

3. I noticed those flowers along your front walk, what kind are they?

4. That’s an interesting picture, did someone you know paint it?

5. I can see you go to a lot of Home Interior parties. (Ok, don’t say that one. :))

6. I like the color you painted your kitchen.

7. Can I help with the food?

8. Everything smells so good. 

9. What a cute dog/kitten/hamster/gerbil. What’s his name?  We have a dog/kitten/hamster/gerbil … and you wouldn’t believe what he did.

10. I see you have a lot of books. Do you like to read? What’s your favorite book? Why do you like that book?

——

In other words, look around. Sometimes I play mind games. I determine that I will find out 10 things about the family that I didn’t know at the beginning of the night.

But don’t despair. Even the most disastrous visit can turn out for good.

I’ll tell you about a disaster on Monday. (Because tomorrow is Fun Friday, remember?)

I’D LIKE YOU TO MEET MY PASTOR’S WIFE, I MEAN FRIEND

I’ve decided not to use the post I had written for tonight (I’ll use it tomorrow) and instead answer Kristy’s question she sent in today (see But Be Careful post).

Basically, she asked (I’m sort of putting words in your mouth, Kristy) how you get past that stage of pastor’s wife to friend. Because no matter how close a friend you are, the people still introduce you as “the pastor’s wife.”

That’s just who you are, so that’s what people will call you. Sometimes people call you a pastor’s wife “nickname.” One man always called me “Mrs. P.W” and a lady always called me “Mrs. Pastor.” In some African American churches, the pastor’s wife is called the “First Lady.” I was speaking at a conference in the south and some African American men who were involved in the conference called me that every time they addressed me (even though I wasn’t THEIR pastor’s wife). All these people called me these different terms affectionately and I didn’t mind.

So, even your closest friends will probably introduce you as my pastor’s wife. Even though I am now no one’s pastor’s wife, some of my friends will introduce me like this, “This is my friend, Linda. Her husband used to be our pastor, but he died of cancer.”  So they get both friend and pastor’s wife in there.

Usually when people introduce you as “our pastor’s wife,” it’s with a sense of pride. It’s not a barrier to the friendship they feel.

And it’s true, that people will act differently around you.  Someone swears and says, “Oh, I shouldn’t have said that – YOU’RE the pastor’s wife.”  Usually those people grew up in a church where the pastor/pastor’s wife really were put on a pedestal.  I just say, “Me being here doesn’t make a difference” or something like that.

TEN CONVERSATION STARTERS

One of the reasons we sometimes (or at least I) have trouble talking to people I don’t know – is BECAUSE I DON’T know them. 

OK, that might sound rather elementary, but it’s true. I don’t want to ask about the man that’s with the lady – because what if he’s NOT her husband. I don’t want to ask about the children because what if they’re NOT her children – but the children of the man who’s NOT her husband. You just don’t know and you don’t want to assume anything.

The result? Tongue-tiedness.

But then you’re standing in back of the church and suddenly the lady and the kids are standing right next to you while the man goes to get their car.

Here are some safe topics.

1. The weather. The weather is ALWAYS a safe subject. That’s why so many people talk about it and say such inane things about it like: “Oh, is it snowy out there?” when the person you’re talking to looks like a walking snowman. So, it’s inane – but it’s safe and everyone knows about it.

2. Something in the church. “Oh, that picture looks nice. One of the ladies just donated that to the church this week.”  Or, “I haven’t had a chance to look at the bulletin board here lately. If you want to know what’s happening at our church – check out this board.”

3. How did you hear about our church? 

4. Are you from around here? Did you grow up here?  This usually gets a conversation going either way. (“Yes, I’ve lived here all my life,” or “No, I’m from Mississippi.”)  Keep it going. (Where in Mississippi? Oh, I’ve been there. Or, I’ve never been there. How is it different from here? Where would you rather live – here or there?)

5. Are you doing anything exciting this week? (Be alert for what she says – it could lead into further conversation.)

6. Have you had a good weekend?

7. Do you have any questions about our church?

8. (Focusing on the kids.) How old are you? What grade are you in? What school do you attend? Oh, you’re homeschooled. That sounds like fun. What’s your favorite subject?

9. I liked your dress (shirt, skirt, purse, daughter’s dress). Don’t be dishonest about this, but if you do like something, say so.

10. Have you been to our church before?

WHEN A NEW FAMILY WALKS IN THE DOOR

You’re standing there, waiting for the service to start when a new family walks in the door.

Oh, what do I say? I’m the PW, I gotta say something. But I don’t know what!  Help.

1. Hi. Welcome to our church.

2. My name is Linda (well, unless your name is something else), I don’t think I’ve met you?  (This works if you think the family might be the Smith’s daughter and her husband that moved to Detroit – and actually she’s attended the church longer than you. By saying “I don’t think I’ve met you,” I’m not saying they’re new, just that I haven’t met them.)

3. Wow, the weather is certainly rainy (hot, snowy, beautiful, breezy) this morning, isn’t it?

4. Can I show you where the auditorium is?

5. Can I get you a bulletin?

6. Would you like your children to go to our kids’ classes? I can take you to the rooms.

7. Can I show you where to hang your coats?

8. I think I’ve seen you before – doesn’t your daughter attend Jefferson School? (Don’t you work at the bank? Are you a mechanic down at the auto body shop?)  

When we talk about greeting first time visitors in my workshop, I suggest that people think of themselves as the church belonging to them as their house belongs to them. When a new family walks in the door, think of them as being guests in your house – and do what comes naturally. You wouldn’t leave your house guests standing at the door – in the same way, don’t let your church guests stand at the door.

WHAT TO SAY WEEK

Question: I’m shy and have difficulty knowing what to say to people. I think up questions beforehand, but then forget them when I’m in the situation. What can I do?

 I received this question on Saturday and decided it would be a good topic for the week. I am starting “What Do You Say”Wednesdays, but this week will be ALL “What do you say? posts.  (Except for Fun Friday, of course – which will be a cooking presentation by the Munchkin Cooking Crew  – stay tuned.)

 This question resonated with me because I was an extremely shy young, pastor’s wife.

 

If you read my ABOUT profile (look under About in the sidebar), you know I decided to be a pastor’s wife when I was a preschooler. But my mom remembers me waiting for her after a Sunday service (I was in my teens at this time) and listening to her talk with some church people. Later, I said, “Mom, I don’t think I can be a pastor’s wife, because I don’t know what to say to strangers.” My mom gave me a lot of encouragement – she had overcome shyness in her own life. (She was voted shyest student in her senior class.)

 And, I credit the people at our Michigan church for pulling me out it – somewhat. They were so warm and accepting and I felt so at ease, that I gained a lot of confidence.

I don’t think I could call myself shy anymore, but I’m still reserved. I don’t mind speaking to an entire group of people, but sometimes – like this PW asked in her question: “What do you say to someone you don’t know well?”

 This is also a subject I talk about in one of the workshops I do at Awana conferences – “How to Be Friends with Parents.”  The workshop is geared toward leaders who want to chat with the unchurched (and maybe churched) parents who bring their kids to club, but the leaders aren’t sure how to start a conversation.

 But before we start in on WHAT to say – I think we can gain courage and comfort from the bio of Moses.

 Think about his life. Born to a Hebrew dad and mom at a time when Pharaoh wanted all Hebrew baby boys killed – Moses was put in a basket (lovingly made waterproof by his mom) and placed in the Nile River. His sister Miriam watched over him. (We don’t know that she was told to be security guard by her parents or this simply showed an older sister’s love for a younger brother.) Did you ever wonder what Jochebed EXPECTED to happen to her son?  I mean, how long could a baby float in the Nile River without being attacked by animals or … Well, it seems as if she had a plan. Did she put him near the palace on purpose? After all, why was he so close to where the princess bathed? The Nile is a LONG river.

 Miriam (yea for the quick-thinking big sisters of the world) arranged for Jochebed to nurse Moses as a young child. So, not only did Moses learn Hebrew history, but he was schooled (by the princess) in the ways of the Egyptians. God’s plan in action.

 Of course, we all know he got angry when an Egyptian master beat a Hebrew slave.  Moses killed the man and then fled to Midian. Now, even though Moses was smart and probably knew his way around people – both rich and poor. He was destined to spend the next 40 years taking care of sheep.

 You don’t learn how to talk too well, taking care of sheep. Just not a lot of conversation going on. Yet, even in this quiet part of Moses’ life, God had a plan. Moses learned how to take care of himself in the desert – preparation for the big EXODUS in his future.

 Yet, when God approached Moses about leading the Israelites out of Egypt –

 Moses said, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”  (Exodus 4:10)

 1. Some Bible scholars feel he had a speech impediment that he later overcame.

2. Some Bible scholars feel he had a difficult time expressing himself, but was able to do so with God’s power.

3. Some Bible scholars feel this was a language difficulty – he was away from the Egyptian language for 40 years, or that he didn’t feel he knew enough Hebrews.

 Whatever the circumstance, God reminded him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?

Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” (Exodus 4:11-12)

 Moses still asked for help and God reminded hi that Moses” brother Aaron was a good speaker. But Moses himself eventually was the spokesman for Israel.  Later, in the New Testament, Luke writes: Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action. (Acts 7:22)

 No, we won’t suddenly have the miraculous ability to say the exactly right words in the exactly right situation.  (That would be nice, wouldn’t it?)

 Yet, just as God was with Moses, He is with us and has a plan for us  — and  is ready to give us the courage to reach out to other people.

 Tomorrow, I’ll talk about some good conversation starters.