Funerals

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. ūüėä 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.

Teenagers 


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. 

My Zeal: A Day in the Life of a Pator’s Wife, part 5¬†


My Zeal. That’s what I could offer. I contained a genuine love and excitement for all things “church”. As a young minister’s wife, I felt like every service was as exciting as youth camp was to me as a kid! King David said in Psalms that better is one day in the house of the Lord than thousands elsewhere (Psalm 84:10). 

I remember one time I was talking to a fellow preacher’s wife, and I made the comment, “Why wouldn’t everyone want to go to ladies’ retreat?” I honestly could not fathom why women wouldn’t want to get together. I thrived on fellowship, and I imagined everyone should be just like me, after all, I was making the right choice (remember how I said I could be opinionated-lol). 

I had youth on my side and independence. I had no children, yet, no job because I was still a student, and I never met a stranger. No wonder I enjoyed retreats so much! I can now look back and imagine the mother leaving behind children with a dad or sitter; or, the business woman taking off work for an extra day to relax at the retreat while worrying over the extra work compiling during her absence. 

I realize that life doesn’t stop during a retreat. As a matter of fact, life after retreat can be more difficult than before. The spirit of joy we feel during a weekend away can be quickly replaced with garments of weightiness as we step back into real life. 

Through the years, my youthful zeal digressed into “the struggle is real”. I am not looking for pity or sympathy, but honesty demands transparency. As much as I love color and strive to add life into every situation, sometimes I just don’t feel it for myself. Life can be pretty black and white some days. 

Back to the younger years, we will focus on the struggle later on this journey. I did bring Zeal to the family and the church. Immediately, I became the fun aunt. Not because I wanted to win anyone over, it’s really just who I was. I loved family! I loved my new in-laws family, too. Samuel’s three nieces and two nephews (at the time) were even in our wedding. What was his was also mine, and I made no differentiation. As newlyweds, we would host slumber parties, zoo trips, and of course McDonalds play dates! We played games, ate special food, watched movies, and made pallets on the floor at bedtime. So many fun times! 

At church I was no different. I jumped in feet first and organized activities. Through the years, we planned VBS, lock-ins, Christmas productions, youth group activities, kids classes, adult bowling, skating (regular and ice), hay rides, cook outs, retreats, camps, mission trips, Six Flags, etc. Basically, if you can think of it, we’ve done it. Each of these activities has a story of its own, too.

Wherever people are, drama is sure to follow. Luckily, during those early years, I was sheltered from a lot of the problems due to Samuel’s parents being the active senior pastors. There were times I didn’t understand a judgement or stance they would take. Oftentimes, I felt as if they did nothing but pray! Now, I realize that sometimes prayer is the only thing you can offer. People are hard headed. They must reach out to God on their own and willfully change their actions. I cannot force people to make a change and have a lasting result. My in-laws had already discovered this. 

A band aid only conceals a wound for a brief amount of time. A band aid does not heal, for the healing must come from the inside. 

From zeal to the struggle is real… over the next few weeks we will take a sort of break. My entries will still be personal stories, but each story will revolve around a particular event or activity. 

Next Monday:  Christmas Productions 

Finding my Niche: A Day in the Life of a Preacher’s Wife part 4


Colossians 3:23

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men….

Finding a “niche” in life seems a daunting task. It’s always amazing to me to see an artist’s work, hear the voice of  a professional singer, or witness the lightening fast fingers of a concert pianist. My parents gave me every opportunity to find a niche. I wasn’t ever a “natural” at anything. I participated in gymnastics but never made cheerleader. I took twirling lessons but had minimal success. Mom put me in weekly piano lessons from 2nd-8th grade. I performed concerts and even at Bach festivals, but I lacked practice ethics, and when I quit taking lessons, I lost my ability to play.  I tried basketball, track, tennis, and golf, but athleticism failed me, too. 

I remember my Grannie being especially upset upon my quitting piano. When she found out I was marrying a preacher, she proclaimed, “Well, at least you can sing.” Thankfully my mom also encouraged my singing when I was young. Aside from continuously singing along with every song playing in the car or on my Walkman, my sister and I regularly sang specials at church. 

I know Grannie’s heart longed for me to accompany the music in church. And, not only Grannie, but apparently everyone expected the preacher’s wife to play the piano. I often felt like a disappointment within the church circles.

 As a young bride, we traveled on the evangelistic field quite often. Some of the churches in which we ministered had no music. Church folks would look to me, and I would unfortunately break the news that I could not play the piano. 

There used to be a skit on late night TV called Lowered Expectations. So many times, I felt as if I could star on that skit. Everywhere I looked I faced unmet expectations. 

My new husband played the bass guitar and drums. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law played the organ and piano, by ear!! My brother-in-law played the saxophone, which was my instrument throughout band in high school & college, yet again by ear!! My father-in-law was the church pastor, and my husband had relatives pastoring other churches across town. I married into a musical, ministerial, talented family. What did I possess that I could possibly offer? 

More next week…..

A Day in the Life of a Preacher’s Wife Part 3: A Firm Foundation¬†


Throughout the years, I’ve had people ask me if I always wanted to be a pastor’s wife. I suppose the truth is that I did. I knew Samuel was called into the ministry before I ever said “I do”. I’ve heard stories of women who absolutely hate being the pastor’s wife. I remember hearing of my own mother-in-law’s fear as she heard her husband profess that he was quitting his job and going into full-time ministry. Pauline loved God with all of her heart, but she was uneasy and hesitant to enter into this lifestyle. She made a wonderful pastor’s wife, and I learned so much watching her through the years. However, hearing the stories of the early years and accepting the call, I can see some differences in us. It’s been a personal struggle for me to battle the beast of comparison. I’ll talk more about that later. Right now, I want to discuss my raising, and how I’ve always felt like God’s favorite. I know we should all feel that way. I pray you can have a relationship with our Heavenly Father so that you, too, can know you are His favorite! 

I don’t have a memory when I did not know God. I remember at a very young age being pricked to the heart and longing for God’s forgiveness for my sins. On more than one occasion, my mom scheduled me an appointment to meet with the pastor. We would sit, talk, and pray, but fear of walking the aisle in front of everyone would grip me and hinder my public profession of faith. I believed I was too old and others would make fun of me, and all of this before I was even eight years old. My daddy offered to take my hand and walk down with me, but that embarrassed me more. When you are young, your perception isn’t always accurate, but at the time my fears felt justified. One day a teenager who was a close friend accepted Jesus as her Savior and invited me to walk the aisle with her the following Sunday.  She was older than me, yet not an adult, so I realized I didn’t need to feel too old to accept Jesus publicly. After my baptism, I gained a new sense of boldness. I spent many days on the playground at school singing hymns and encouraging all of my friends to accept Jesus. I was a child evangelist. 

Everything about church excited me: Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, Training Union, Sword drills, singing, musicals, Bible Memory Association, Girls in Action, Acteens, Super Saturday, youth group, church camp…. Every visit to the mall had to include a stop at the Bible book store. All the grandkids of the older people in church would invite me to play when they came to the country for a visit. So many wonderful memories of church functions flood my upbringing. 

I soaked up all my lessons. I became an expert sermon note taker! I loved Bibles. I still do! Bibles are one of my favorite gifts to give and receive. I love God’s Word! 

My reputation as a Christian and a goody-two-shoes followed me throughout high school. Oh, I made mistakes. I was far from perfect, but I repented. I loved God, and it was my desire to please Him. On occasion peer pressure got to me. Sometimes I gave into my sinful nature. Also, there were times that I felt alone and left out of the “cool” group. My mind constantly a battlefield between the joy that comes from knowing you are serving the Lord and the wonderment of the fun everyone else seems to be having. I suppose we never lose that curiosity because the devil is good at his job. He makes sin look good, and we know it’s pleasure for a season. (Hebrews 11:25)

More childhood experiences next week…

A Day in the Life of a Pastor’s Wife part 2¬†

Uninhibited 

Will I ever achieve that?!?


Let’s address the elephant in the room. Oh, I always thought I was the elephant in the room. A life of being overweight sent me into the yo-yo dieting phase again and again. Each time, I would lose considerable weight, I would find it again along with pounds of more weight. Such a vicious cycle and so disheartening to always feel fat. 

Looking back on pictures from high school and the early years, I only wish I were “that fat”! I looked good. I looked normal. I fit in with all of my friends, yet I never appreciated who I was because I always thought I was too big. 

It’s high time we rip up the standard everyone seems to think is perfect and learn to be happy in our own skin. Appreciate the specific beauty God has placed in us. Stop the comparison train! (Unfortunately, this isn’t the last time we will battle comparison on this journey.)  We must enjoy everyday because life is too short, and we must love ourselves for who we are right this very minute. 

I went to a funeral recently, several actually ūüėĒ, not a fun part of the job, but as I looked into the coffin, I decided it didn’t matter how fat or how thin I am. Life is too short. Love God, live for Him, and enjoy who you are right now: rolls, wrinkles, or bones! 

A Day in the Life of a Preacher’s Wife (part 1)


No two days are the same, that’s for certain. There are good days and bad days, happy days and sad days, days bustling with people and days of loneliness. Through the years, my personality has changed. We have been visiting one of my high school teachers in the hospital, and more than once he has asked me, “How have you changed since high school?” His question prompted my thinking. Hopefully, or thankfully, most don’t recognize the difference. I diligently put on my happy face in every situation. My job title, pastor’s wife, encompasses a broad array of expectations. I purpose myself to remain constant, offer encouragement, and bring peace, if at all possible. 

How have I changed? 

There is no short answer to this question.

I spent the majority of my 20s and 30s feeling inept and too young. Oftentimes, I would read Paul’s charge to Timothy: “Let no man despise your youth,” (1 Timothy 4:12), and build my faith to act, speak, or perform a certain duty. Prior to these two decades, throughout my teen years, I felt empowered. I grew up outgoing, ready to take on the world, and extremely radical in my belief system. Some even called me opinionated, but I always thought I was right, and therefore, justified in my opinions. 

Gung ho to make changes, incorporate ideas, follow through, and “fix” everything wrong everywhere. Oh, the innocence of my youth! But, oh, to serve the Lord with that same fervor tempered with the wisdom I have gleaned through the years! A personal goal: to serve God completely uninhibited, yet with His wisdom flowing in my life.