I can remember, when I was a child, watching adults interact at funerals. I would observe the conversations, the seemingly normal actions, and particularly the laughter. I knew the stigma of a funeral: dress in black and mourn. So, the laughter always confounded me. “How can you laugh during such a sad occasion?” I thought.

As an adult, experiencing personal loss, I recognize the need for laughter. There are so many happy memories we can share about our loved ones. I realize that funerals aren’t completely cloaked in darkness, as a Christian, we have hope of seeing our loved one again.

Proverbs 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine

1 Thessalonians 4:13

…concerning them which are asleep…sorrow not…as others which have no hope.

Psalms 116:15

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.

But, today’s thought is focused more on the pastor’s wife’s view of funerals. We attend a lot of funerals. Some people we know very well, other people we have never met, and some we knew before but have not been around in a while. Different circumstances can make for awkward moments. You feel compassion for the family and try to glean from your own personal experience to relate. It’s especially difficult when you don’t know the relative personally.

There are times when the family of the deceased are merely acquaintances. I think those are the most awkward funerals to attend. My husband doesn’t face the same awkwardness that I do. Upon arrival at the funeral home, he heads off to meet with the funeral director. He gathers the obituary and order of service, and often times, he remains in the office to gather his thoughts until service begins. This leaves me alone in a room full of strangers for no less than 30 minutes. I greet a few people, cast a smile or nod here or there, visit the ladies room, and check my watch. To my dismay, only five minutes have passed. Friends and family gather early to greet one another, and I’m sure they are all wondering why the strange lady chooses to loiter at a funeral home. I try to find a seat near the back but with a good view of the podium, so at least I can have eye contact with my husband, the only person I know in the room.

Funerals of church members are better (that sounds awful, I’ll try again). Funerals of church members are less awkward. 😊 However, the visitation night can be difficult. It all depends on the individual. There are some people who you know outside of church and share friends or even family. I can almost always find someone to talk to. But, there are other members who I only see on Sunday mornings for a brief hello at the door. For these people, I know very little of their family, coworkers, or friends. You might think you know a person, but when you are surrounded by the people who filled their life, you find out how out of the loop you are. I find myself scoping out the room to see if I recognize anyone. Occasionally, someone might ask how I knew the deceased, but when they hear, “I’m his pastor’s wife.” They quickly need to go talk with another. So again, I search out an empty chair, in a corner, out-of-the-way, and just awkwardly observe. Sometimes being a pastor’s wife is a bit of a party pooper, not that I funeral is a party, but you get my drift.

Finally, the worst funerals are the ones where you don’t know the heart of the person. Thank you Jesus that I am not God, and it’s not my responsibility to cast judgment. My job is to simply show love. It’s my prayer to offer faith, hope, and love to the family members who remain by being present and showing my support.

1 Corinthians 13:13

And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Monkey see, monkey do

What a trip we had in Nicaragua! We took a group of 20 for our first overseas mission trip with a large group. Samuel has been to Ecuador and Peru. Together we ministered in India and Columbia. But being responsible for a group of 20 was a new experience.

Fortunately, we had our youth pastor, a Nicaraguan native, as our team leader. That, however, added a new level of stress for me: relinquishing control. I was not the coordinator; I did not know "the plan"; I felt helpless.

My friend, Karan, recently wrote a blog concerning personalities. She even included a link to take a personality test. I answered each question as quickly and honestly as possible. My result: the commander! Sometimes the truth hurts.

I really try hard to make "right" choices. I focus on the well-being of the entire group. I think I am just being helpful until I see the "eye roll" or someone stomps off mad or someone makes a comment about me being bossy. Then, I'm hurt. I reevaluate each action. I am often confounded not even aware that I've said or done anything offensive. I'm trying to let go of these emotions. It's definitely a conscious effort for "the commander" to allow another to lead.

That's where our youth pastor stepped in. He wrapped his arm around my shoulder. The gesture brought tears to my eyes, and he said, "You be you." Three little words could not have come at a better time. For in my mind, I'm reeling, "What did I say wrong?"; "How should I react differently?"; "I want to be a positive example."; etc. So, what better advice to put my mind at rest: "You be you." I'd love to tell you I never had another negative thought, but it's going to take time. But, in reality, all we can do is be ourselves. I'm grateful for the patience and understanding he showed me in that moment.

There are always improvements we can make. Life is a journey, and we learn from our mistakes along the way. This man who spoke into my life isn't perfect, either, but I need to readjust my focus. Instead of picking apart the problems, I want to point out the praises! This charismatic, fun-loving leader brought together a group of teens and adults and led us to meet the needs of others. He saw a specific need, and instead of following the norm, he planned a way to fulfill the need. He grew up as one of these Nicaraguan children, and he recognized the importance of spending time with them. Even though my heart leaps as he climbs the tree to grab a coconut, and then I watch teenagers do the same, I can relax in knowing he is leading them to Jesus, too.

The biggest lessons I learned in Nicaragua are: God is still working on me; it's OK to be myself even if myself isn't perfect; and, finally, sometimes the commander must relinquish control to another.


A teen myself, I thought I was grown when I said, “Yes”, to marrying my groom. I walked the aisle at age 18 and woke up the next morning, on my birthday, a 19 year old woman. Married the end of May, just three short weeks later, we arrived at Camp Roman Nose in Oklahoma. 

My husband answered his call to the ministry at age 15 and began working as a youth leader among his peers in his home church. He first traveled to Oklahoma to preach this particular church sponsored camp when he was still a teen himself. So at the ripe old age of 21, he had experience in spades compared to me. 

We shared a private cabin in the woods at camp Roman Nose. Sounds romantic, huh? Not exactly. The A-frame cabin housed about ten bunk beds along the two side walls. A window on one end and a door on the other, there was no a/c and no bathroom. We took all of the mattresses off of the bunks and stacked them in the middle of the room to build our own queen-sized bed. There was a dirt path to the haydite block building that housed the showers and toilets. A large multi-purpose building housed the kitchen, dining, and chapel area. Instantly submerged into ministry, I watched others and acted from my own camp experiences from my childhood, just the summer before. 

We remained active in youth ministry for the next 15 years. Actually, Samuel has continued to minister at youth camps, even this current summer. Weekly youth services and multiple activities filled our lives. Amusement parks, water parks, camps, mission trips, days at the park, combing the neighborhood passing out flyers, productions, and more taught us life lessons and an appreciation for laborers. The stories are endless, and each experience offered an opportunity for learning. 

The carbonated soda lesson:

One summer we took the youth to a water park in Shreveport, LA. It was less expensive and less crowded than Hurricane Harbor, so we could enjoy the day with shorter lines. Also, our admission tickets included lunch: a burger, fries, and soda. We stayed from opening to closing ensuring our money’s worth. My husband, my sister-in-law, Debbie,  and I were the adult sponsors on the trip. We had one old, church van and one car-load of teens. 

One of the boys had complained he wasn’t feeling well, and we chalked it up to too much sun. My sister-in-law had already refereed in a disagreement between our niece and her best friend, and we knew it was past time to head home.

Samuel lead in the church van, and we followed in the car. Suddenly, the van pulled to the side of the road. The boy who felt ill was having chest pains, shaking violently, and having difficulty breathing. This boy had an over-protective father, and the knowledge of this worried us even more. We were in uncharted territory and unsure what to do. We grabbed a sprite for him to drink, but he just couldn’t keep it down, so we drove to the nearest city with a tiny hospital and admitted him to the ER.

All of us were tired, sun burned, and hungry. We filled the small lobby. It took a couple of extra hours, but the diagnosis was simple: he was dehydrated. (You’re probably thinking, “Well, duh,” but for us, 17 years ago, it was a first.) The boy had drunk no water the entire day, only soft drinks. The doctor informed us that carbonated drinks actually cause you to dehydrate faster. The carbonation basically sucks the fluid from you. These kids needed water and Gatorade! 

Ever since that scary experience, we stress water to our young people. We often buy bottled water and take coolers with us. It was a lesson I will never forget. 

Children’s Ministry 

Psalm 127:3(NLT)

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.

I love children. Children’s ministry? Well…..

Teaching is a gift (1 Corinthians 12:28). I love teaching. To see the spark of understanding in someone’s eyes when he/she comprehends a new concept or hears a story for the first time validates the effort spent preparing to teach. 

However, just because you can do a job well does not dictate that job should be your career. There is something to be said about enjoying what you are doing. Remember, today’s topic is children’s ministry. 

My mom and sister both teach elementary aged children. They are gifted with a special portion of grace and patience that much of the world lacks. I can remember a time when I did some substituting and did not specify grade level. What was I thinking? After two days in a 2nd grade classroom with 25 seven years olds, I was on edge. My certification is in 7th-12th grade mathematics. I quickly learned that one of my favorite things about 7th-12th grade math is the 50 minute class period. The bell rings and the students leave to wreak havok somewhere else. Lol. Elementary classrooms are generally self-contained. 

Do you know what self-contained means? It means you contain all the same 25 little darlings from 8:00am until 3:00pm (or longer) all by yourself! (With the exception of p.e. class, music, or something similar). Self-contained translates into self-drained in my case. Sure the young ones are cute and toothless and mainly sweet, but I’ll trade 45 minutes of teenage attitude any day. “Different strokes for different folks,” they say. 

However, church needs must be met, and when there is no one else fulfilling the need…You got it. I taught it! From Sunday school to Wednesday Bible study’s and even the nursery, I filled in the gap. Hopefully to the bystander looking on, I showed love and joy, but in my heart of hearts, I held dread. It just wasn’t fun for me. I decorated the classroom, purchased curriculum, planned snacks and crafts all with a smile, but on the inside I longed to be in the adult class. I knew that children’s ministry was not my calling because instead of feeling inspired, fulfilled, and content after class, I would feel discouraged and empty. 

I would pray about someone to take my place. I remember, a few years ago, I approached a church member and asked her if she would enjoy teaching the kid’s Bible study on Wednesday nights. When she responded yes, a levy broke inside of me, and I cried unexpectedly and uncontrollably. I’m surprised I didn’t scare her off! But, when you enjoy a task, you don’t mind the work. She is no longer attending church here, but the Lord has continued to provide teachers for the children. 

I am learning that it is ok to let go. The Lord will provide. I can only do what I feel the Lord has called me to do. If I am doing someone else’s job, then I am robbing his/her blessing. 

Tales from Christmas, in July 

Christmas Productions.

One of my favorites: The Good News Christmas Cruise 

My daughter, Haylee, is the small girl in white (above).

The boy in red is my son Jacob (below).
I love Christmas! I love musicals! So, what could be better than a Christmas musical??? How can an activity be equal parts exhilarating and exhausting!?! 

Every year I would look at my sister-in-law and say, “Please remind me to never do this again.” But, a year would pass, and I would do it again. I did finally pass the baton a few years ago, and honestly, I kinda miss it. (Don’t tell anyone. Shhhhh.) 

The practices were grueling. Only a handful of participants would show up at a time leaving me to fill in the extra lines. No one would memorize his/her lines until the final day before production! I literally forced people to sing whether they possessed a natural talent or not. And, I pretty much forced them to have a good time. 😊 Can’t you command people to have fun? 🤔 I sure tried. Lol. 

I suppose my last year to be involved was the year the poop 💩 hit the floor (isn’t that how the saying goes??). No, but seriously, I found poop on the floor of the Sunday school room.  Real people poop!! Across the hall from the bathroom, on the floor of the classroom, there it lay: 💩. I was livid. It was dress rehearsal, so kids and parents were all there to help. I took a grocery bag, picked up the poop, tied the bag in a knot, and marched (poop in hand) to the platform. I took the microphone, had everyone sit down, and my rant began:

“Do you know what I have in this bag?!? Poop! Real people poop! Someone thought it would be ok to poop on the floor. Well, it’s not ok. If you did this, you have a problem. Go see a counselor. Never poop anywhere but the toilet again. This is God’s house! We do not poop on God’s house!…..”

Umm, you get the gist of it. I made a point that day. Hopefully whoever the culprit was would think twice before pooping next time. Needless to say, I suppose I was a little stressed. I’m certain I should have handled the poop situation more tactfully. 

However, regardless of the stress of months of rehearsals, the actual performance never disappointed. The parents and grandparents so enjoy the joyful noise of their grand babies. The forgotten lines are swept away by the perfectly delivered, and the scenery and costumes delight the audience. The story lines reflect Jesus and lives are literally changed making it all worthwhile. 

Galatians 6:9

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.