Pastor Appreciation Month: From a PK

I’m a PK — Preacher’s kid — and October is pastor appreciation month. Seems logical for me to write something about it. My dad has been a preacher all my life, and a pastor for most of that time. I’ve seen church ministry from the inside out for a long time. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. So believe me when I write to say thank you, I really do see what pastors, and their families have sacrificed.

For my family, it wasn’t just “dad is a preacher, and we tag along.” Ministry was a whole family deal. Sure, dad did the pastoring jobs, but none of us were allowed to just sit and watch. I’ve been 30 minutes to an hour early, to church, nearly every Sunday of my life. There was no option to be too tired or busy for church. There was no “that is someone else’ job” either. I’ve seen my dad vacuuming church halls in his suit and tie right up until people began to arrive. I’ve seen him emptying trash cans, picking up gum wrappers, and sweeping the same way. My mom, siblings, and I have all done the same. Your pastor’s family does so much, that you may never see. His wife is probably playing piano, singing, teaching Sunday School, keeping nursery, or some combination of all of those things. His children are likely mowing the church lawn, or being asked last minute to keep nursery or teach a class to children during revival. He is spending his own money on small church repairs that need to be done ASAP. So this month, thank your pastor’s family.

And of all the things you do see your pastor doing there are dozens more going on behind the scenes. He spends hours a week studying and preparing to teach and preach. He prays for you and the other members of your church. He worries about things for you. He takes calls late at night or early in the morning, when he would rather be sleeping. He prays with you over the phone, or drops everything to drive to the hospital. He counsels and marries your children. He buries your aunts, uncles, parents, and friends who had no church home. He sucks countless cough drops to squeak through preaching while he should be home in bed. He fights back pain, kidney stones, family worries, and stress to stay focused on delivering God’s word to you and the congregation every week. So this month, thank your pastor.

When you do see your pastor he smiles, hugs your neck or shakes your hand. He asks about you. About the new job.  About your children. He has his own concerns. His weekday job is rocky right now. His truck is broken down. His dad is sick. But he knows most people he speaks to on Sunday morning will unload on him, and then walk away without asking how he is doing. So this month, thank your pastor.

Then he stands up in front of the church. Maybe he leads music too. Maybe he just taught Sunday School. But now he comes to deliver the Message. He can see you are distracted. He knows that isn’t a Bible app you have pulled up. He hears you whisper to your friends, and he sees you get up for 3 bathroom breaks. He knows you keep checking your watch. All of these things are a huge distraction. But he keeps giving the sermon. He continues to do his job. Then he gets in the car, and turns to his wife… “did that make any sense? I struggled with that so much this week, and I don’t know if anyone heard it.” So this month, thank your pastor.

After all of this, he wonders. He loves you. Your pastor really does love you and your family. He wants the best for you. He wishes he could cast off your pain. He hates to see you suffer. But his job as your pastor, and thus roll as your friend, is always on the line. If he preaches too strongly on a subject will the church reject God’s word, and fire him? If he points out new ministry opportunities will people balk and leave the church? What if clearly false rumors begin to spread about him, or his family and the church kicks him out. After-all, he is human too. So this month, thank your pastor.

Really, having one month for pastor appreciation is such a huge down play of all that your pastor does for you. Thank him. Thank his wife. Thank his children. Thank the lady who makes coffee (or maybe your pastor does that too). Thank the nursery workers. Thank the Sunday School Director. Thank the sound team. Thank the guy taking out the trash. Ministry is hard work. It’s taxing. It can be stressful. Your pastor loves to serve, or he wouldn’t be there. So this month, thank your pastor.

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The Awesome Side of Pregnancy

There are plenty of places to find scary, gross, weird, or unusual pregnancy side effects. But how often do we talk about the awesome parts?! Like, never. Maybe because they can feel few and far between; but since there are some pretty cool perks to being pregnant, why not celebrate?

Before bed snacking is not only allowed, it’s even encouraged! Okay, so we probably shouldn’t binge on Ben and Jerry’s every night, because if we spend our money on that we won’t be able to afford any more super cute baby clothes! But, seriously, I just ate a hot dog, and a bag of chips at 9:30 — just 3 hours after I ate supper! I don’t feel the least bit guilty…actually, I still feel hungry. Anyone have a slice of pizza?

You just might luck into 9 months of significantly less shaving! Who wouldn’t love that?! I didn’t get so lucky this third time around, but with the first two kiddos, I could go a week without shaving my legs. Whoohoo! Especially by about week 30 when bending over is a full blown aerobic exercise!

People are always saying you look cute! Come on, admit it, compliments are great. And even if most people mean “it’s so cute that you are wearing a beach ball instead of me;” they still say it as “awe, look at her belly — So cute!” They compliment outfits that show the bump, and later they love that your shirt disguises the bump. If you can wear heels, folks just eat that up! It’s great!

You get to be a little bit whiny on Facebook. We all tend to whine occasionally anyway, but as long as you can disguise your preggo whining under some good sarcasm; it goes over a lot better than just complaining that the mail ran late.

Eating. Wait, I already mentioned that, huh? Never mind, I’ll just eat another hot dog and hush on that one.

Sonograms are also really cool. I don’t know, maybe they weird some people out, but I just love seeing baby wiggle and watching the heart beat. Such neat technology!

People tend to baby the pregnant women a little, too. I’m a very independent person, so this one can get annoying, but hey, if some one offers to do work for me so that I can rest…I’m pretty much already asleep.

Speaking of sleep, pregnancy means nap time! The first few weeks naps are pretty hard to avoid. Your body is just gonna take that nap whether you are ready or not. Driving down the interstate? Body don’t care. Better phone a friend. Watching the kids? Naw…I’m asleep on the floor. Snuggling the hubby ZZZZZZ (it’s not our fault men are so warm and cozy!) But even a few months in, when you really could stay awake all day, every day, people don’t blame you for napping. After all, growing a baby is hard work.

Pregnancy is so cool! I don’t know why women only tell the bad parts. I mean, duh, morning sickness is the pits. And of course, labor hurts and there are strangers in the room. Yea, there are some pretty weird side effects to pregnancy, but it’s just so cool. In fact, as much as I may whine on the bad days, I’m secretly a little sad that my baby carrying days are numbered. We don’t plan to be the next 19 Kids and Counting family, so there will be a last baby. There will be a last breath catching, giggling moment of excitement when that little line turns pink. Some day I will feel a baby kicking inside for the last time. I’ll nurse one last night before all my babies are weaned. It’s kind of sad to think about it. (Lucky for me, we don’t plan to stop at 3, so I should get at least one more turn to eat hot dogs at 9:30 at night.)

Don’t believe the negative hype. Pregnancy is such a beautiful thing.

What’s in a Name

Baby number three is getting ever closer. While we still have almost 4.5 months to go, it feels like that may not be enough time to pick a name for our new little one.

Our first two children practically named themselves, since we had friends and relatives we wanted them named after. Baby three has not been nearly so easy. While we do know the baby is a girl (Yay for adorable baby girl clothes!) that hasn’t exactly helped us settle on a name.

Right now we remain in a stalemate, mostly brought on by a middle name that I am incredibly attached to. I came across it by accident a couple of years ago, and fell in love. Joell. It’s so sweet. Feminine, but not overly “girly.” I just love it. But every name I come up with to use it is shot down. Summer Joell was “too hippy.” Molly Joell doesn’t have a good “yell factor” (???). And Samantha Joell was “eh.”

We have even reverted to comparing the meaning of all names to see if we can agree on a name meaning. Hubby wants Sarah Faith which means “princess; faith.” Joell means “Jehovah is God”… so I can hardly see how that isn’t a fitting name. After all our first children are “divine; gift of God” and “Beloved friend; swift.”

At any rate, I am glad we have 4 more months to settle on a name. And Brandon is still hoping we find out baby is really a boy…too bad we don’t have a boy name picked either!