September 29, 2011

Knowing, Loving, and Loosing Those Close to You

One of our church members is a young woman who grew up in a rural area that was populated mostly by her relatives. As you might suspect, her family was close. That was great; however most of her relatives were quite elderly and she loved them all like they were her grandparents. She moved away from her community looking for better opportunities and soon she had secure ties in our church with a steady job and a new husband. But when her relatives began to die, she took each one hard and with each successive death, she sank deeper into depression, brought about by sadness but also guilt to leaving them. Her church and friends were supportive, but she would just about recover from one loss and another would hit her.

In the ministry, we grow close to a lot of people, many of whom reach out to us and become extended family. When we move or there is a death, we take it hard. And I'm not really even talking about the pastor, but also us, the pastor's family.

Children in the parsonage see a lot of death. In fact, my younger daughter never fails to remind us that her dad had to take her to a funeral one time (actually two times) because we couldn't find anyone to keep her while I was in class.

Being close to a lot of people, whether with everyone you've ever known through FaceBook or at church also means that we are more susceptible to bearing grief and enduring loss. This makes it all the more important to have your own support but also to talk to your kids. Even if the grief doesn't affect them directly, if it affects you, it affects them.

Grace, Kathy

September 26, 2011

Christmas and Your Kids

This year Christmas is on Sunday. Will that make a difference to how your family celebrates?

For us Christmas being on Sunday is not a big deal, but it did mean we had to adjust how we celebrated opening presents on Christmas morning. When our kids were little and woke up on Christmas before the break of dawn, it was really easier. But as they got older and wanted to sleep late and open presents at a leisurely pace, that was a different story.

I'm not sure what Sunday's are like for you normally, but in our house, my husband (the pastor) is up around 5:30. He takes that time to not only get ready, but also to rehearse his sermon once or twice more before the 8:30 service. He is focused on all that will happen, so it makes it hard for him to relax. So when Christmas is on Sunday, we allowed the kids to open some of the presents before church and even take one to the service. Skip, my husband, would even encourage other little kids to bring a gift to Christmas and then he would bless the toys during the children's sermon time. Then after church, we opened the rest of the gifts and then packed up to go to one of the grandparents for dinner.

I'm writing about this now, so that we can think ahead and plan. While it might be easy to see a Sunday Christmas as an intrusion into a family time, it can also be an opportunity to talk to kids about the real meaning of Christmas and back it up with a new way to celebrate.

Grace, Kathy

September 23, 2011

Would you use this book in your congregation?

Friends, I know many of you teach in your church. I need some feedback about this book idea.

The book would focus on the most common beliefs and practices of historic Christian communities: belief in one God, the distinctive Christian message (the gospel), the practice of baptism and related practices of Christian initiation (chrismation/confirmation, first communion, conversion related religious experiences associated with initiation into the Christian faith), the Lord’s Supper as the fullest expression of the Christian gospel, rites that mark the hallowing of life and vocation (marriage,healing rituals, services for the
consecration of Christian vocations, and rites associated with death and burial), the path of Christian sanctity (including personal and social aspects of holiness or sanctity), and the Christian hope.

Sound interesting? Or not?

Thanks, Kathy

September 14, 2011

Need Some Support? Check This Out!

Lori Wilhite is founder of for Pastors' Wives and Women in Ministry. She is the wife of Jud Wilhite, Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church in Las Vegas. Go to and watch as she shares critical advice about pastor's wives' deep need for a support network and the support they can find through Virtual Community Groups and local events offered by Leading and Loving It.

Why struggle alone?

Grace, Kathy

September 12, 2011

What if miracles were the norm and not the exception?

This past Sunday, after remembering and remembering 9/11--the victims, the great sadness. My thoughts went to "So where is God?" Then I looked over the congregation. (I sing in the choir, so I see faces and not backs of heads.)

There are so many miracle stories in our church. And all those faces are vivid reminders. There are foster kids, now adopted; saved marriages; a young adult who should have died after breaking his neck diving into a pool; an elderly person who found meaning after an unsuccessful suicide attempt; a young girl who's tumor seems to have vanished. These people sit next to a couple whose marriage is failing; people who are struggling with cancer; people who suffer chronic pain; and so many others. But despite toils and snares, God does not pick and choose. God is present to us all, and that is the miracle.

The miracle is that living with God in the Kingdom is now. We don't have to wait for pie-in-the-sky at some later unspecified time.

We live with miracles all around us, even in the midst of tragedy and storms. Not only that, but we can be miracles to others. That's my prayer anyway.

Grace, Kathy

September 9, 2011

More In Between Times

As we've been looking for a church, I realize that:

1)I am still grieving the church family we left after fifteen years. I've learned that making decisions during grief is not wise--so I continue the path of grieving and seeking--grieving and seeking each week.

2)Connections are not made quickly. I had to leave deep, deep friendships, prayer support, and ministries, which helped me grow closer to God and provided an opportunity for spiritual nourishment. Having to leave a place that had become "holy ground" and persons, who represented Christ to me in some way, is extremely difficult. However, I just remember that friendships are formed gradually over weeks and months and maybe years.

3)I am realizing how my role as "the pastor's wife" opened more opportunities for involvement and friendship than just being a "regular person," who walks through the door of the church each week. I never had to worry about people to meet or places to go. People came to me. I was able to get ministries started quickly, because Mike was my husband. Although I did have to go through proper channels my requests were honored quickly. I never realized how much being the pastor's wife was my ticket to implementing what I believed God was telling me to do.

So, as time passes, I am becoming more comfortable in "ordinary time," which I am finding is not "boring, uneventful, undistinguished" as Wendy Wright asserts. I find myself enjoying these large expanses of time where I can sit and rest with God. I am not running out every other night to a meeting at church or planning an event. And, most important, I am finding new pathways within myself to walk with God--something that might not have been possible to the extent I am experiencing if I was still connected to church.

I do not know how long I will be here. But I am not pushing myself to move on. Cultivating the richness of this opportunity, I am realizing is a gift. I'll know when "ordinary time" will end, but right now I am resting in the pattern of grieving and seeking in God's presence.

God, many times we find ourselves in ordinary time. Help us to welcome the tension involved in ordinary time as a stirring in our souls to go deeper into ourselves and with you. Self-knowledge and a closer walk with you are woven together in the ordinary times we experience. We have the assurance that you are with us always; and for that constant grounding, we offer thanks. Amen.

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana

September 8, 2011

A Time Between

One of my favorite authors, Wendy Wright, wrote a book in 1999 called The Time Between: Cycles and Rhythms of Ordinary Time.

Ordinary time is that set of days or sometimes weeks between major events in the liturgical year. The first period of ordinary time begins after Epiphany and ends on Ash Wednesday. The second period of ordinary time begins after Pentecost and ends with the first Sunday in Advent. "The time between" and "ordinary time" have taken on new meaning for me as I attempt to find a faith community following my husband's July 1, retirement.

I haven't found a new church. We've attended five different churches in eight weeks--multiple services on Sunday morning enable us to attend at least two churches each Sunday. I didn't think finding a new church would be difficult, after all, I've asked God to direct me where I can learn, grow and serve, but I haven't heard anything from God. So I've decided that this time between churches-- this "ordinary time" despite the tension, uncertainty, and confusion must be where I need to stay for awhile. I am not willing to "join a church quickly" just to get my feet planted and start running.

Jacquie Reed
Fishers, Indiana

September 2, 2011

To Air or Not to Air, That Is the Question

Character assassination. Surely no one wants to air their dirty laundry in public, least of all the Church. But sin, like dirt, can breed in the dark, so usually I'm on the side of bringing things into the light.

Also, no one said that serving a church is ever easy. I know lay people really don't understand this, but all of us who have served a church or been part of a clergy family know how easily things can go wrong. But I'm not talking about Ms. So-and-So who gets her feelings hurt because she was not publicly and profusely thanked. No, I'm talking about people who go out after the pastor or clergy family member with the sole intent of destroying that person's reputation.

How often does that happen? More often than you might think. But the stories often remain behind closed doors for fear and shame, and because people might muse, "Just maybe there is something to it."

Are there safe guards in place to protect innocent clergy? Frankly, no. In the UMC, the District Superintends are usually more interested in protecting the church than the pastor. If a family member is attacked--forget it. There is no help.

What can a pastor do? Sometimes not a lot. Suffer through? Move on, because only a very few "good" people will stand up? Get a lawyer? Counter sue? Sometimes the best thing is the expose the bullies, the liars, for what they are. Frankly, each situation is different.

But these things do happen. The best thing you can do is stay healthy, stay in touch with God, and stay connected to close friends. Be gentle as a dove, but as wise as a serpent. Take your church through a Healthy Congregation program.

Grace, Kathy