A Country Dessert

With living in a small community, occasionally we were given desserts from ladies in the congregation. One time after church, the entire family was ushered into the church kitchen and this sweet, simple country woman set a lovely, homemade lemon meringue pie in front us.

“Pastor, I made this for you.”

Then she said, “This is your’n. This is your’n.”

Mom watched the wheels in our heads spinning as we conjured all the puns we could think of…”this is urine.” Mom’s eyes pierced us and we could read the daggers….”Don’t any of you kids Dare laugh….or crack a smile.”

Mom received the pie with genuine gratitude and we were all dutiful to say, “Thank you.” But once we were at home sitting at the dining room table savoring the “Urine pie”….we broke into gales of laughter.

 

 A Mother’s Love

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These cuties are all grown up now…..

 

A mother’s love is deep and self-sacrificing. How I remember as young children, my siblings and I each took  $ 1.00 and went to the store to buy Mom a bottle of perfume for Mother’s Day. We wanted her to know how much we loved her. Each bottle had a different color lid on it—purple, red, yellow and blue. Daddy always purchased perfume for Mom—Chanel No. 5 and White Shoulders, so we just knew that she would love our choice of perfume for her.

She was so incredibly gracious and elaborate with her praise and gestures. We watched her lavish the individual fragrances on her arms and neck and exude, “Oh, it’s so lovely that you gave it to me. Oh, yes, Honey, I am wearing it.” And she did. We wanted her to wear our choice on Sundays, when we wanted her to smell really nice.  (What atrocious odors she wore for our sakes.) Years later as we reminisced, we all laughed until tears came out of her eyes.

How expansively she loved us. How many times did she lovingly drape a handcrafted macaroni necklace strung with simple yarn and proudly wear it to church because one of her children made it for her. She was a woman whose primary love language was “gift giving” and though our gifts were not expensive, in her eyes, they were indeed priceless, because they showed her that as our mother, she was loved dearly.

Fast forward to my life where my own sweet kids pondered what to make me for my birthday….several years ago when I was diagnosed with diabetes. They proudly served me a simple chicken breast with a candle and I can still remember the hopeful question, “Mama, do you really like it?” And, like my own mother, I sang their praise and delighted in their desires to bless me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dropped Bottom???

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I hated social settings. They filled me with fear and nervousness. I was in 6th grade and had just started wearing pantyhose. Since we were always on a tight budget, my mother would generally buy the cheapest items, regardless of quality. I was at a wedding reception in a dress, pantyhose and heels.

The Ramada Inn was lavish in its décor of reds and gold with tantalizing foods spread in abundance. Two glorious silver fountains beckoned thirsty guests to come and be refreshed. My mother discreetly informed me that one fountain offered champagne and the other was merely punch. She cautioned me because one time in their early years of ministry, my father ignorantly proceeded to drink champagne, much to my mother’s chagrin. Since she often reminded me that I had hardly any common sense, she was making sure that I wouldn’t repeat my father’s faux pau.

Obediently, I steered clear of the champagne fountain. I was sipping my drink while holding a plate with cake, nuts and mints on it, wondering where I could sit and eat without having both hands occupied. My eyes were scanning the walls for an empty chair when a waitress came to me.

She was short in her black dress, fishnet stockings, crisp white apron and cap. “Honey, you dropped your bottom.” She promptly skirted away to continue her tasks for the evening. I was thoroughly mystified and mortified. My mind reeled.Are my pantyhose hanging bunched around my ankles, again?!!! Or has the entire waistband dropped and the pantyhose are lying on the floor around my shoes???? Is my slip hanging? What in the world did she mean, “I dropped my bottom !?!?

I found my mother and through gritted teeth told her what the strange lady said. “Mo-ther, what did she mean? I dropped my bottom?” My mother looked at me with twinkling merriment as recognition dawned on her.

“Oh, honey, she means the bottom of your cup.” She walked to the non-forbidden fountain to demonstrate that these cups came in two parts to be assembled. By the time she finished explaining verbally and visually, all I longed for was that the reception would finish and I could go home, far away from social gatherings, baggy pantyhose and dropped bottoms!

Baring My Soul

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This story is painful. I didn’t realize just what this will take for me to share it all, Jesus. Please hold me and help me.

(“Ruth, these precious women need to hear that they are not alone. I know how painful your life was…..I wept with you and over you….but that is the very reason I am sending you to speak. Don’t be afraid, My precious Daughter, I will not leave you….My Holy Spirit is helping you, even now, as you type these words.”)

God, this is excruciating.

“Yes, but you didn’t stay there. I redeemed you. I have healed you. I set you free.” The enemy wants you silenced but it is TIME for you to speak. It is MY time for you to speak.”

Reframe the Story

 

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So many of us carry memories of brokenness and pain, times when our world felt “upside-down” and we had no hope. We look back on those times and still feel the ache of the scars. But what if out of those places of despair we could see the strength, wisdom and confidence that we gained from those difficult years? What if we could re-frame the story to discover what God did in our hearts and characters in spite of what the enemy meant for evil and destruction?

Would that change our outlook and could we find Joy in the midst of sorrow, pain and conflict? What if the Holy Spirit enlightened us and showed us how much stronger our faith became, deeper our commitments to follow Christ and richer our compassion, understanding and sympathy for others? Could we see that we became less prideful, judgmental and arrogant?

As we heal this is the hope we offer to others from our own experiences in life. It is from this realization and recognition of our common struggles that God can restore us, reframe our stories and enable us to bring comfort to others.

Perfect Pastor’s Wife —Not Even

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I awoke with you on my mind. It was a deep, philosophical morning of thinking about years in ministry as a missionary and a pastor’s wife. We served in small places not large cities and those communities leant themselves to scrutiny and exposure. “Living in a Fish Bowl” is what I used to term it. Always wanting to draw others to Jesus Christ because He is worthy of their lives and they are so incredibly valuable to Him.

So I thought of you, my precious sister, fellow missionary who is out there today feeling forgotten, struggling and wondering “Has it been worth it all?” and to still be there again….simply living your life among the people in hopes that they will see in you the beauty of Christ, of forgiveness, joy and peace and the fulfillment that only God can bring to their hearts.

Let’s be honest. They won’t find a Perfect Pastor’s Wife, though some of them will make you feel that you should be beyond sin, mistakes, offenses, and to put it bluntly, beyond being human.

How I long to encourage you today, as one who was once in those very trenches, that the eternal rewards that await you far surpass the trials you are facing. Your present day faithfulness is all that God asks of you. Don’t pick up more burdens and responsibilities than He has asked you to carry….even though it is difficult to say, “No,” to people, you must learn to do it. I find it fascinating that Jesus set the example for us, in that He didn’t heal everybody or meet all the needs. He specifically only did what the Father told Him to do.

Please don’t burn out on the mission field. We need you in the Body of Christ and if you need to take some time today, even if it’s just a cup of tea, coffee or hot cocoa, make some time for yourself. Be good to yourself and to your family. The demands of ministry will always be there. May you have wisdom and grace to know the difference between the need and the call.

Savor the peace that you have in knowing that in Jesus you are loved, forgiven, accepted, wanted and cared for. He walks with you and the Holy Spirit is there to comfort you, even as He guides you when you speak words of comfort over others.

Don’t give up. Though the spiritual battle rages, be reminded that Jesus Christ has already conquered everything that comes against you. Find some good, safe believers and let them in on your life so that you can be mutually encouraged, prayed for and loved. We all need to be strengthened and edified—that’s why God called us to be a Body.