SOMETIMES YOU CAN’T DO A THING

Here’s a fact.

Some people are unreasonable and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Church was over that Sunday morning and Ken and I and the kids walked home – which at that point in our lives meant walking across the parking lot. Ken was associate to my dad and we lived in one of the church houses which meant everyone knew where we lived and had access.

I started making lunch. The kids (two and three at the time) were happily playing and Ken was going back and forth between me and checking on the kids – when we were interrupted by someone frantically knocking on the door.

Thinking the church was burning down or burning up or something, Ken hurriedly opened the door. I heard someone ask for me and then Ken walked in the kitchen, shrugging his shoulder and saying that Matilda Church Lady wanted to talk to me. 

This was strange. The church was large (about 1500 people) and my nursery, toddler, Awana path didn’t often cross with Matilda’s. What could she want with me?

Here’s the truth. When someone is that angry, you quickly find out why she wants to talk to you.

She pointed her finger in my face and started a tirade about the role of a pastor’s wife. 

“You think you own your husband, but you don’t He belongs to all of us and for you to keep information from him is WRONG! You think you can keep SECRETS FROM HIM, but I have found you out.”

Picture this. I was a young mom, with the goal of getting the chicken on the table and getting the kids down for their Sunday afternoon nap.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I’m sure I looked puzzled because I WAS puzzled.

“Oh, yes YOU do! The finger wagged again. You think by not telling your husband things …” and off she went again.

 I sincerely was totally perplexed as the words spewed out of her mouth. Ken was now upstairs with the kids and couldn’t hear what was going on.

I waited until she took a breath and inserted as quickly as possible. ‘What did I do?”

“You know what you did – you didn’t give him my phone message. I distinctly told you when I talked to you the other night that he needed that information right away and that he needed to call me back. You promised to do that and then you broke your promise.”

Ladies, if I wasn’t a pastor’s wife and I could bet :), I would’ve bet a million dollars I did NOT talk to that lady on the phone. Trust me, I would’ve remembered it.

And I told her that. “I didn’t talk to you on the phone.”

Oh, my. The tirade started again. “You liar….” 

Finally, she left and I was left shaken and in tears.

“What was that all about?” Ken asked.

I told him what she had said.

We did some sleuthing and discovered that she HAD called the house and talked to the BABYSITTER, who had neglected to give us the message. (We had a regular Monday night babysitter because Ken was doing a Bible class up in Harvard. Not the university. The town.)

I wrote the lady a note and told her what had happened, but she never apologized. My husband and my parents both advised me that with this lady in this situation, I should not approach her and explain because she wouldn’t believe me.

Sadly, you meet people like that – and there’s nothing you can do.

Just give it to the Lord and get over it. (And I know, that’s easier said than done.)

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.