Dying Is Not Just an Ending But a Beginning

Glimpses of Heaven by Trudy Harris, RN.  I have just finished reading this amazing journal of the experiences of a faith-filled Christian who has served in Hospice care.  Trudy Harris heard her call from God and took the gifts He offered her and went to work as His servant.

The final paragraph of the book reads, “Dying is a very natural part of living.  It is not an ending, but a beginning.”  She shows death to be a transition into the life God has promised to all of His children.  He wants us to eventually come home to be with Him after we finish the work that He has created us to do.  “He loves us-believe it.” 

Dying can be very scary, especially for those who do not know God our Creator, Jesus our Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our Director.  But Trudy Harris witnessed of God to all those with whom she came in contact.  Many came to faith in God through her conversation, care and prayers.  Trudy Harris reflects Christ.  You can feel it in the stories.  You are in awe of her and pray to God to be more like her.

My mother Diana, is also an RN.  Long retired, but she still renews her license.  My mother worked in emergency rooms, operating rooms and on the floors of  hospitals and private doctors’ offices.  My mother is the first person that I call when I am given a diagnosis by my doctor.  She researches, questions and gets answers.  She comforts and loves those that come to her.  Every family member counts on her medical knowledge and insight.  I see Christ reflected in her.  I also hear hope.

My husband Earl, Senior Pastor at James Island Presbyterian Church, recently gave a sermon entitled, “The Roman Road.”  One section of the sermon hit me at the time that he stated it, and I was reminded of it again as I read this book.  He said, speaking of the church, “We are a hospital for sinners – not a Hospice for sinners.  As much as Hospice did for my personal family – and I love the work of Hospice – and not everyone who enters Hospice also dies in Hospice… But by simple analogy, a church is not a place for sinners who have no cure and are made to feel comfortable until they die.  The church is a hospital where patients are made better by the Great Physician and live eternally.”

The church is for healing and recovery.  A place where all sinners go to be made well.  We come to be cleansed by the Spirit of God through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ.  In the church, I also see hope.

Trudy’s book offers the reader a glimpse into the final days, hours and moments of those who are ready to leave this earth and transition into life eternal.  To read about those visions comforts the reader and gives knowledge to the believer that when God calls us home, He blesses us by His Holy presence.  When God calls us home to begin a new life with Him, it is not frightening.  It is more than we can possibly imagine.  And that is why I believe in God’s living hope.

“And how shall they preach unless they are sent?  Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!”  Romans 10:15

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Be the One in Ten Christians that have…

The rest of the sentence is, read the Bible!  The Church as a whole, is biblically illiterate.  Ouch, that hurts!

Different research shows slightly different results to the question, “What percent of Christians have read the whole Bible?”  But nevertheless the Spiritual blood of Christians in America is anemic.  Only 1-3 in 10 professed Christians, have ever read the Bible in its entirety.  That means that although every person’s opinion is valid and important, not every Christian’s opinion is informed by the word of God.  Only about 10%-30% even know what God says. 

God expects more of us.  Paul told the young Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable to teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Hasn’t God given us His word that we might understand Him a little better than we would otherwise?  Every other year, I read the Bible in full.  I can honestly say there are a couple books – Numbers being one- that are very dry and extremely difficult to get through.  But this should not discourage us from reading this wonderful set of love letters that God has so graciously bestowed upon us.  I have read the Bible in a number of different ways: cover to cover, New Testament then Old Testament, and the use of Robert Roberts one year study, which offers a reading of the Old Testament and two readings of the New Testament in a year.  This year I have chosen The One Year Bible for Women using the New Living Translation.  It breaks the Bible up so you are reading Old and New Testaments along with Psalms and Proverbs each day.  I haven’t quite figured out the “for women” part of the title yet, perhaps it’s the pink accents.

God has a voice; He has chosen to speak to us in a most personal way.  He has given us a book full of wisdom and love along with guides for the ways we should live our lives.  If we don’t dive in and seek His truths, we will never know.  We will never be able to discuss Christ and His fullness to others that may be seeking Him.

As a pastor’s wife that has read her Bible numerous times, I still have difficulty understanding some of its messages.  But each time I read it, God enlightens me to new insights that He has for me to learn.  He has also given me a great source for learning – my pastor.  Christians are blessed to be offered free counseling by their pastors.  Our pastors are there to help spiritually guide us and to preach and teach those parts that may be difficult to understand.  God has put our pastors in place for this purpose among others.  So don’t be afraid to seek out your pastor to help you.

This year, why not make a New Years’ resolution to read your Bible in full?  Let’s get the percentage of Bible readers up and be able to live as per 2 Timothy 2:15.  “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of Truth.”

 

Friends, To Have and to Hold…..!

I recently read the book, Desperate Pastors’ Wives by Ginger Kolbaba & Christy Scannell.  I found out about the book while browsing a website I joined specifically for pastors’ wives.  It had some very positive reviews by women who are in the ministry, and I felt that perhaps I might glean some insight into whether my experiences were the same as my comrades.

The book begins by enlightening the reader that pastors’ wives (a.k.a. PWs) are many times without real friends.  Then we meet four PWs who put their trust in one another over a long period of time and eventually there is created a deep and wonderfully honest friendship. PWs can relate to each other.  PWs know and understand the difficulties of the ministry.

The focus of this book has described my life for the past thirteen years.  I have struggled with befriending anyone since becoming a PW.  I have begged God to bless me with a true Christian friend for all of these years. 

Prior to becoming a pastor’s wife, I had close friends.  I still have my oldest friend Valerie (we’ve known each other for 44 years) and my friend Beverly (we’ve known each other for 22 years).  But these friends are not near in proximity nor do we share our everyday lives any longer.  We talk or email every few months, catching up, but none of the depth of our lives is expressed in such short periods of time.  And now, as the wife of a pastor, with my own ministry, I tend not to think that they want to hear about everything that is going on in my life because of the uniqueness of being a PW.

I reconciled myself to the fact that Earl was just going to have to do as my best friend.  And actually, for all intents and purposes, Earl really is my best friend.  He knows all about me and certainly listens and shares with me on an everyday basis and deals with all my annoying habits and many faults.  But right now, I’m talking GIRLFRIEND! 

Once I became a PW, I noticed people to be more reserved about themselves around me.  Everybody is truly pleasant and certainly may be inquiring about me, but very few bring you into their lives and share who they are in such a way as to develop a close relationship.  However more recently, I have met a couple of women who seem to want to maintain a closer relationship with an alien PW like me.

Carol is a friend from our Morrow Church pastorate. It took six years at that ministry before we actually met.  Although I don’t get to see Carol but a couple times a year, we do have dinner and try to catch up.  We laugh and we usually cry in just a mere 2 hour time frame, but we are uplifted by each other’s company and God’s Holy Spirit.  God is the One Who has brought us together – not the call of being a PW.  We met when our kids started dating and our daughter invited Carol & her husband to church.  God answered that prayer for me.  Within six months of meeting Carol, Earl and I were called to our next ministry.  Since Carol, we’ve had two more pastorates. 

It wasn’t until we came to James Island Presbyterian, that I met a wonderful woman named Kristi.  Kristi is real.  Kristi is true and honest. Kristi speaks her mind!  The first time we met, she and her husband took Earl and me out for dinner and the first thing she said to me was “It’s been a heck of a day; I’m having a glass of wine, how about you?”….We hit it off immediately.  Kristi is in the ministry too.  Her husband is the Associate in Ministry at our church.  Kristi knows….and understands!  Kristi is yet again, a God answered prayer. 

If we have patience and trust in God, I believe that He will bring into our lives the people who will help us traverse through God’s difficult ministry trails.  I give God my thanks for giving me the patience to wait on Him and for giving me the friends that He has chosen for me…. in His perfect time.

John 15:13 – “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

I Need My Pastor….

“Earl, I need to talk to my pastor.”

Whereas my husband is a counselor to many when it comes to spiritual, life and relational issues, does anyone wonder who the pastor’s wife goes to for such help?  Most people would probably recommend some independent, Christian counselor.  Is it possible for a spouse to be your pastor and counselor?

October is Pastor Appreciation Month, a.k.a Clergy Appreciation Month.  With a few clicks of the mouse and very little research, I found that Pastors have been unofficially” recognized the second Sunday each October since around 1992.  Funny thing, we have been officially celebrating Groundhog Day since February 2, 1887!   Is it possible that we are more apt to put our focus upon a rodent who supposedly predicts the future over our Pastors who help us to find a personal relationship with our Creator and encourage us and help us to grow in our faith in Jesus Christ?  I’m just saying…

I see very few churches that even recognize the month let alone a day for Pastor appreciation.  Ever since I have known Earl, whenever someone mentions Pastor Appreciation Month, he quickly tries to refocus it into an employee appreciation month.  But my husband, without fail, will be there for everyone else with just the ring of the phone or a knock on the door.  His ministry is to preach the Word of Christ to all who will listen and to witness to those who cross his path.  He will hear your joy; celebrating with you, and he will comfort you in pain; crying with you in grief.  He will preach the Bible to the very foundation of what it stands for, and he will not be ashamed of it.

There are many times I have looked at my pastor husband and said “I need my pastor”.  It is astounding how quickly, as I watch his face, he transforms into my pastor.  That’s right!  As a member of the congregation for which he serves, I too claim Earl as my pastor and sometimes, even my counselor.  And Earl knows enough to understand that his wife needs a pastor too.  Not many people think about that fact.  But I do.

I love Earl – My husband.  I appreciate and respect Earl – My pastor.

I want to reach out and let my pastor know how much I appreciate him.  He has counseled me, he has strengthened me in my spiritual journey, and he has educated me in spiritual discernment and theology.  He has pointed out to me God’s Holy Word during times of trials, and he has prayed for me and prayed for me and prayed for me.

Hebrews 13:7 (NASB)

“Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith.”

What has your pastor done for you?  More than a groundhog, I feel sure.  I’m just saying…

Blessings and peace…..Laura

Come, Have Dinner with Me!

Deutsch: Gastronomie om Schlosshotel

        It was Friday night and as many know, Friday is date night for Earl and me each week.  But last week it was a little different.

     Earl began CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) classes at the end of August, and they last until December 18th.   This past weekend was his first of eight, overnight, on-call volunteer times.

     So we decided that we would have a date night on Thursday night.  We tried a restaurant in downtown, Charleston.  We love sampling the food at different restaurants, and I almost always prefer Italian.  Unfortunately, we left the restaurant $60 poorer and still hungry.     Whoever heard of leaving an Italian restaurant hungry?         

                                                                           

Friday is also Earl’s day off (on call 24/7 always, but we say it’s his day off), so he got up early, worked on his computer, went into the office (he feels guilty now that he takes a day or two for the chaplaincy program, so he goes in on Friday)….then he came home and worked on one of his many auto projects before dressing to the nine’s and heading to the hospital. 

Before leaving he asked me, “Would you come to the hospital and have dinner with me?”  OK, I’ll be honest here, as the pastor’s wife, my first thought was not positive.  It was more like “What?  You’ve got to be kidding!”  But even as he was asking, and I was rejecting, I knew without a doubt, I would be going with him.

It’s not often that I deny Earl his heartfelt requests, and anybody who knows me, knows this is true.  But why would I deny myself an opportunity to spend a little time with Earl, even if it is in a hospital cafeteria?  As many people know, a pastor’s family life is very difficult.  Check out the blog-post here that I wrote concerning statistics on a pastor’s life and family.  So with this knowledge, I know not to make our life any more difficult than it already is.  If I’m given an opportunity to be with him, and I can do it, I’m there! 

When I met him at the St. Francis Hospital cafeteria, I must say that we enjoyed a fabulous fish dinner with rice and greens along with drinks and bread – all for less than $10.  The meal was fabulous!  My date continued on with a tour of the chapel, the CPE offices, and then I was brought upstairs to see where he would be spending the night.  It was in a small room on a tiny little single bed.  Earl is 6’2”, and this was not going to be comfortable for him to say the least.  Not only that, but the bed wasn’t even made up.  Ghee-gads!  Earl and I spent a few minutes locating the linens and then without a second thought, I was making up his bed for him. 

I figure it this way, I feel so blessed that God has given me a few things in this life to oversee, whereas Earl has been given much to oversee.  I certainly want to make sure that I do all I can for such a caring, compassionate and humble pastor, so that he can touch the souls of those in distress and those that are depressed and dispirited, by the Spirit of God that works through him.

Matthew 9:36 NASB

36 Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.

A LIFE of AUDITS

As the Financial Controller for a small security business in Atlanta for the past 13 years, I have endured multiple audits annually.  An audit is an extensive and methodical examination of all of the books, records and accounts that support the financial statements.   In most circumstances, they are costly and time consuming.  Audits I’ve dealt with have been done by outside accountants with insurance companies, Department of Labor, commercial finance and our own accountant.  All these audits are done in order to determine basically whether I am doing my job correctly and that there is no cooking of the books.

Two months ago, two days prior to leaving on a two week vacation, I received a call from the State of Georgia – Department of Revenue – Sales Tax Division.  They would be coming  August 13 for two days to two weeks to audit every aspect of our company books, to determine that as an agent for the State of Georgia that we were paying the state all that was due to them.  The audit was for a three year period, May 2009 – July 2012.  Let the panic set it!!

Proverbs 16:3 “Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established.”  This verse has played a very important part of my life for decades.  I believe God Himself provided me with this wonderful opportunity of work and because He wanted me here, doing this work, I would commit the work that He gave me, to His service.  All that I do, I mentally determine that it is for God.  Just as pastors, elders, church leaders take the position that God gave them, knowing that the work is in His name and for His service.  We should  understand that the work God has given us is actually for Him!

Therefore I went into this audit for the state with prayer and I asked fellow Christians for their prayers also.  Though I was told it could take anywhere from 2 days to 2 weeks, I anticipated 2 weeks and I PRAYED for 2 days.  I spent the last two months preparing for this audit.  It disrupted my normal routine of working remotely from Charleston, and I had to travel to Atlanta more often and stay longer.  I was commuting to Atlanta on Sundays after the worship service and returning on Friday or Saturday in order to be home for next Sunday’s services.  And I was still trying to minister to Earl and to God’s people as He also directed me.  And through it all, God kept me safe in my additional travels.

On Monday, August 13, my auditor appeared at 9 AM, but by Wednesday, August 15, my auditor was finished with the on-site field audit!  Do I hear an Amen?   My prayer was definitely answered that in two days the on-site audit was completed.  After all was said and done, I had done my job to the best of my abilities and with careful preparation and the help of my staff; we were able to provide all the information in an organized and detailed presentation. 

After prayer and praise to God, He gave me a thought to ponder.  Shouldn’t each of His children review the life they are living and after careful consideration, preparation and detailed determination be able to present themselves to God for audit?  God is the only judge Who can determine whether they are doing the job He gave them to do, and whether they do their job to the best of their abilities.  Aren’t we all really living a life that is to be fully audited by God?   Thank the Lord, our books will be found clean through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Message of the Beatitudes – Eight – Persecuted

 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.”  Matthew 5:10-11. 

When I met Earl, he had already been in the ministry 12 years, he had 3 children (10, 12 & 14 years old), and was pastoring as an abandoned single parent in a church that had about 10% of the city residents, (600 of 6,000).  I was in my mid 30’s he was in his early 40’s.  I had 2 children of my own (10 & 16 years old).  But I didn’t think twice about dating and eventually marrying a pastor.  I had been a Roman Catholic growing up, became a Baptist at 28 and didn’t see any issues with becoming a Presbyterian when I married Earl at the age of 36.

After 13 years of marriage bliss – 🙂 – I have since discovered how life in the ministry can be.  My husband has had all of the 8th beatitude negatives hurled at him at one time or another in his ministries, from insults to persecution to loss of larger church calls because he wouldn’t compromise his beliefs, and to having all kinds of evil said against him falsely on account of his belief in the Jesus as presented in the Bible.

I remember a church that would have called him, but told him that he would have to leave all his controversial sermons in his filing cabinet.  Needless to say, he didn’t take the call.  Over the years, I too, have had derogatory and untrue comments said about me.  Those have really hurt especially since I have been very actively involved at many levels in every church that we have served. 

     I would highly recommend to all church sessions, leaders, staff and church members, the book, “What Pastors Wish Church Members Knew” by Denise George.  This book says it all and then some. 

     If you take the time to read the book mentioned above, you will actually see the real world of a pastor’s life and the far-reaching effects upon his family.  Jesus warned that all those who made the decision to follow Him would be persecuted, they would be afflicted, and they would be oppressed.  In  1 Thessalonians 3:4-7, Paul writes that he advised the church that he was going to suffer affliction and then by verse 7 he states, “In all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith.”

     A pastor and his family know that according to the Scriptures, ministry is going to be difficult.  Jesus promised that it would be.  That is part of God’s call, and I am not really complaining.  But Christians need to recognize that sometimes they can be used, usually without their awareness of it, to damage a good ministry and to discourage someone who has been graced by God to shepherd and benefit the church.  With this knowledge and with a lot of prayer, forgiveness, and the strength of God, a church family and a pastor’s family can be victorious through all kinds of trials.  We can all bear much more fruit for Jesus Christ when we stop insulting and discouraging pastors and start praying for them and supporting them and respect the fact that God may be working through them.

When I read God’s Word, I am in awe of the prophets who have stood in time past and had been persecuted.  I never compare my life with theirs, but I can understand just a little better some of the dynamics and trials of their lives.  To be persecuted because of your belief in Jesus Christ is like a badge of honor because when this happens to us, Jesus reminds us of His promise, “Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”   (Matthew 5:12)   At least when we are persecuted on account of Jesus, we know that we are on the right side!

One of the most important and holy acts of kindness a church family and shepherds can do is to be in continuous prayer about their shared ministry together.  Jesus tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.  Churches that have done exactly that have seen the positive results of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of those who have had a God-change of heart.  Blessings abound for all involved when we do as Jesus directs rather than taking matters into our own hands and reacting cruelly, hurtfully or in an un-Christ like manner.

Unlike many minister families who may be experiencing more severe issues, Earl and I are doing relatively well.  I did not write this blog to imply that we are always experiencing persecution.  But some pastors and churches are going through such trials that we should not only be praying for them, but also teach and proclaim that it shouldn’t be the church that persecutes its own – even if the world does.  Many times churches and shepherds can experience great love, prayers and support for each other.  And this is how our witness should be to our culture.  But in this ministry as a pastor’s wife, I have learned what God’s call upon my life is.  As Earl ministers to our church family, I am to minister to him.  For his days are long and hard out in the ministry field.  The very least that I can do is to minister to him and attempt to make his divine call as easy to bear as possible.  We are in this ministry of Jesus Christ together – for better or for worse.

Message of the Beatitudes – Three – Meek

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”

  I am not meek, but I am working towards it. 

Most people would not admit to working on becoming a meek person.  We are usually offended when referred to as having too meek a personality or character.  Why?  From all that our culture values, to be meek is to be mild-mannered, spineless, weak, submissive, subservient, passive and even in-effective.  Meek people get trampled. 

Maybe we do not understand what being meek is really all about from Jesus’ perspective. 

Being meek is the middle ground between excessive anger and being completely dispassionate and passive.  Anger is not a sin, nor is it necessarily bad.  The bible says that we are to be angry, but sin not.  Anger can be a great motivator.  It can help us to get charged about God’s righteousness and justice.

Everyone gets angry. But anger is often a selfish response to the world and other people.  If we were left up to our own devices and decisions, everything would be going our way.  So what is it that make us angry?  We may feel anger when we lose control – when things don’t go as we planned and we begin to feel powerless to change them.  We can feel anger when other people’s decision’s adversely affect our lives without our consent.

Jesus was meek.  But Jesus also became angry.  But his anger was a righteous anger for the down-trodden and the oppressed.  His heart burned when people called by His name ignored “the least of these, my brethren.”  He promises judgment for those who truly hurt children and cause them to stumble.  His soul reacted when He saw his Father’s temple being used for profit instead of the worship of God.  James 1:19-20 “This you know, my beloved brethren.  But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” Note that when Jesus became angry, His anger was focused on those that caused suffering to others and on the disrespect shown towards God and His worship.  Jesus’ anger was never about Himself.

The meek are not easily provoked to anger; they patiently bear and put up with injuries and affronts;  they carry themselves courteously and affably to all; they have the best thoughts towards others; they do not envy the gifts and graces of other people, and they are willing to be instructed and admonished.  Meekness is patience during the midst of injuries.  Meekness produces peace.  It is proof of true greatness of soul.  It comes from a heart too great to be mowed down by insults.  It even prays for those who tear down.  He that is constantly ruffled, and raises a storm of passion when wronged, is at the mercy of every mortal that chooses to disturb him.

The meek are those who quietly submit to God; who can bear insult; are silent, or return a soft answer; who, in their patience, keep possession of their own souls.  To be meek is one who controls his strength and uses it appropriately.

You cannot achieve meekness without first achieving humbleness.  We submit ourselves to God and know that we can do all things through Him.  We humble ourselves into servant-hood…to love, to have compassion, to serve those around us, even those who are against us.  To be meek is to be wise….

So, what keeps us from being meek?  Ego.  

Besides the meek inheriting the earth, the bible refers to other blessings for those who are meek.  “The meek shall be satisfied.” “The meek He will guide and teach.” “The meek will become wise.” “The meek will be filled with fresh joy.”

So, what’s not to like about being meek?

BE STRONG and BE COURAGEOUS

“Be Strong and Courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

I have had a very hectic and draining couple of weeks.  But I can only attempt to understand the distress, pressures and heartache that my pastor husband, Earl, has endured.

We live and minister in Charleston, SC, and I work for a company in Atlanta, GA.  Last week, I was needed in Atlanta for the week, coming back to Charleston on Saturday.  On Palm Sunday, Earl received a call that no one ever wants to receive.  His father, who was diagnosed with lung cancer only 2 months prior, had passed away.  With Holy Week ahead of him, we quickly made the arrangements to get to St. Louis on Monday morning, very early.

Upon arriving, Earl and I, his sister and brother-in-law and Earl’s mother, went to make the arrangements with the funeral home.  After spending most of the day there, the decisions had been made, but then they had to find a burial plot, where further hours were spent with more decisions being made.  Earl’s mother was a really strong woman that day and handled herself with pure grace.  She was strong, she was courageous!

Earl’s mother made a request of Earl that I would never have been able to fulfill.  She asked him to do the service for his father.  Earl was grieving, Earl was trying to be the strong son.  Earl was uncertain he could fulfill her request.  But she insisted.  Earl’s stress was intensified.  How could he possibly do his own father’s service and make it as meaningful for the family as he had done for so many other families in the past?  This request prompted me to remember how Earl was as a child.  He wanted to be superman; he donned his cape and climbed atop the garage so he could save the world and make everything right.

 

Earl had to go into super pastor mode, so he went into prayer and asked God for His presence.  He pastored his family; he gently and compassionately questioned them about their stories about his father.  He took in the stories and on Wednesday, he took those stories and developed them into a tribute to his father that was inspiring, loving and heart- felt by each person in the chapel. He began his eulogy with a prayer that so touched me that I will never forget his request.  He asked God to give him the spirit of a preacher and the heart of a grateful son.  Earl stood strong, he was courageous! 

God’s timing in the passing of Earl’s father was too soon for us, but oh so perfect for Him. Earl’s father suffers no more.  Earl will always remember that God took Aubrey home on Palm Sunday.  Earl mentioned that his father triumphantly entered Paradise on the day we celebrate Jesus triumphant entry into Jerusalem so long ago.  Jesus came in order that we too could triumphantly enter the gates of heaven.  Earl’s father lived a life full of compassion, love and gentleness the very personality of Jesus.  Earl’s father lived a life of giving and helping and being there for those that came across his path.  Earl’s father lived a life that most would shy away from, for Earl’s father did not live for self, but Aubrey lived for others.  Aubrey lived strong, he was courageous!

Easter is now upon Earl.  The day after burying his father, Earl was presenting the Maundy Thursday service to a fellowship hall full of our Charleston family.  Our congregation offered him more time to stay with his mother and take care of family business.  Our congregation offered a gift so very extraordinary, they gave that gift unselfishly, knowing that Holy Week was here.  But in Earl’s eyes, his church family in Charleston needed him now.  He needed to be back in the fellowship of his flock, helping to lead them into the Easter season, in the remembrance of the Resurrection of Christ, the most holy week of the year. He let the Lord lead him.  He knew that he had to be strong and courageous for his flock.  For he knows, “the Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

May you be strong and courageous through all of life’s trials and tribulations and may you always know that the Lord will go ahead of you and will always be with you. In Christ we can be strong and courageous!

Walking Down the Aisle to Serve…

Galatians 5:13
“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”

When Earl and I got married, I did very little of the planning. Truth be told, I did NONE of the planning. I did manage a week before our wedding, to take my good friend Bev and go look for a dress for my big day! Now, I am a very organized and detail oriented person. So looking back, it’s very hard for me to understand how I could have let this big day just happen.

Earl planned everything from the flowers to the music, the cake, and also the car that whisked us away after the ceremony. I got myself into my dress and waited for my queue to walk down the aisle with this handsome man on my arm. Our wedding was a full worship service with hymns, liturgies and a sermon. We spent the sermon portion of the service looking down from the church choir balcony listening to every word and in total awe of the over 300 guests present. We then took our moment to walk down the aisle together to say our vows. After saying “I do” and being presented as man and wife, we came back down the aisle to an instrumental piece that Earl had written, played on the organ…..it was magical! I still to this day, wake up to that beautiful piece of music entitled, “The Proclaimed Word” as it plays as our alarm each morning.

Why am I reminiscing about my wedding day so long ago when I’m talking to my fellow pastor wives? Well, let me just say that, every Sunday morning, I relive that beautiful day of saying “I do”.

Years ago, when I realized that God’s appointed ministry in my life was to minister to my pastor husband, I understood that Earl needed assistance after a worship service concluded. I let you know in my blog entitled, “A Rare Sunday in the Pew…”, that I walk around pre-service to meet and greet congregants and visitors. Well, an extension of that ministry evolved when I understood that Earl was being given numerous prayer requests and concerns as people left the church after a service. In the receiving line, Earl couldn’t greet everyone and at the same time write down prayer concerns I found that by sitting in the front of the church, usually 3rd or 4th pew, I could actually see the service better, but I could also take the opportunity to walk back down the aisle with Earl as he went to the doors to greet attendee’s. Each Sunday, I walk down that aisle with Earl and feel a renewal of our vows, to have and to hold, in good times and in bad, for better or worse.

I stand at the doors with him, hand him gum or a mint in order to relieve him of any dryness of mouth from speaking, and I offer him another ear. Some congregants hesitate to burden their pastor with their request feeling that the pastor has too much to do already. I am someone they feel they can inform and they know I will get it to Earl. I write down the requests, and he is free to continue to greet everyone.

I am right here beside him, being his helpmate and right here for HIM, in HIS service..to this day I say, “I do”…….

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