Saturday, December 22, 2012
It was last year, when I went to work full-time, that I really realized exactly what it was. PTSD. Having PTSD was no surprise, I knew that...but I never really had related it to being a pastor's wife.
In most congregations, there are rarely huge crises...but there are little things, especially when a person tends to be someone who doesn't quite fit the mold, does things out of the ordinary, and stinks at some things as well (me, me, and most definitely me).
The gossip would get to me. The unspoken expectations would drive me crazy. The conflicts that had happened over silly things. Often they were things the majority of the congregation didn't know about, but were behind the scenes....And when I found out that there were issues with things I'd done months or years after I could've done something about it...that would have me in tears for days...and always ready for the next shoe to drop.
"Just ignore it," I was told. "Don't let it bother you," was common advice...and good advice. But advice I couldn't take. And I had no idea why. I could try the power of positive thinking, I could change my perspective...for a little while.
Actually, I'm great at handling huge crises. I can be brave in the face of turmoil, calm in the storm. Truly, I am awesome at it.
But growing up in the way I did...it was never the big things that caused the world to turn upside down. It was little things. Stupid things. Things that were only rarely expected, and would probably leave most normal people aghast at the things that would cause incredible turmoil in my family. Life was about avoiding those times, trying to anticipate those times...survive those times. Things that often to regular people should never have been a big deal at all.
In the parish, I struggled because I could never turn that off. As much as I've recovered from it, I can't turn that hyper-alertness that looks for these things. I can't stop wondering if something is going on that I don't know about. Working away from home was one of the only ways I could get away from it. Living in a parsonage especially made me feel very, very vulnerable to impending doom.
In the seven years that I've written about being a pastor's wife, and the fifteen years that I was one, I could never quite put that into words. In my interaction with seminary and pastors' wives, I have always tried to keep in perspective that whatever my issues were, they weren't necessarily those of others.
And the title is a bit facetious. I "hacked" it for fifteen years, and God has been gracious and merciful -- blessing me in many ways along the way. I've had very patient and loving family as well as having been blessed with amazing friends who have supported me and loved me for being Lora, and who weren't usually associated with the stress soup. They've been my sanity over the years.
I have no idea what mission work in Papua New Guinea will bring, whether this will be an issue there. My husband won't be a parish pastor there, but there is a lot of learning to do, learning to relate to other people in completely new ways with a new language and a new culture. I have been doing a lot of praying. We've only visited for a little more than a week, yet as I process what I saw there, it seems like it is becoming more home to me than Indiana or our very nice parsonage ever was. It is strange and freeing that there is the fact that if I can't hack it after giving it a very fair shot, they will pull us out. But I hope, pray, and desire that I can, because we are needed there, and I have a feeling that it will be very, very good. Hard, but good.
I know this time that we have had where I have been able to live in a house that isn't a parsonage, sitting in the pews of churches that aren't my husband's...has been very healing.
And you have been important to me, too. Having you share your experiences, your wisdom, and often, your pain, has been amazing. I never meant for this to be a pastors' wives site, nor did I ever set about to have a place to be a pastor's wife when almost every moment of my life was trying to escape that fact...but it did become that, and from what has been said by you...it has been a blessing.
I wish you a blessed Advent and a very Merry Christmas.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
I'm not a Barack Obama apologist, normally. The phrasing was "inelegant," to borrow a term from Governor Romney. But one thing that is clear to see, is that Barack Obama gets his view of foreign relations from science fiction, or at least shares the same with many science fiction writers. It is seen all the time in shows like "Star Trek: Next Generation" and "Doctor Who."
The view is basically that a civilized culture will eventually EVOLVE to the point that they will eschew violence and provided that enough respect, encouragement, and communication happens, peace will come. Obama, in his view, has extended the hand and tried to show that he was not going to get involved in the Middle East policies, especially jumping to Israel's defense, because he is an understanding, different kind of President who can see all sides. He apologizes for past offenses, and tries to show us a much more humble, less arrogant nation. The Middle East should respond, in his view. However, while they continue to learn to trust and develop...the theory goes...there will be some who try to jeopardize the movement toward peace and how people respond to that can move the process forward, or kill it.
Watch an episode of TNG...happens all the time, when they are not dealing with some kind of rip in the Time Space Continuum. Some Romulan will cause an explosion at a peace conference on the ship because while the wise old leader is tired of generations of war, there is some goofball who can't see shaking hands with the Vulcans or the Klingons or the Smurfs or something. And then there is a huge speech about how important it is that this one incident doesn't get in the way of something truly momentous happening. And things are good until another rip in the Time Space Continuum or the Holo-deck misfunctions.
|(gratuitous picture of David Tennant)|
It's there in Doctor Who, too...it was the core belief of #10. Everything can be solved by talking if only people would listen, even the Master (Ha!). Number 11 professed it, too, particularly early on ...but is struggling with it now.
I am sure that this theory works in good time. After all, there is peace in Ireland. However, those who espouse the theory that eventually we will come to an understanding because in the end, we all want what's good always end up struggling with how to deal with the fact that sometimes there is just evil and people who just want power and domination. There are people, countries, etc. who don't want to live side by side, who don't want to share...but want to have control. And at those times, there is such a thing as a righteous war.
Sunday, September 23, 2012
"Why do you think?" she asked.
I couldn't answer.
The answer came to me tonight as I was reading the epilogue for "Bitter is the New Black" by Jen Lancaster.
When going through the application process for becoming missionaries (yeah, I still think, "Really, ME? Are you kidding???) a friend of mine who grew up in the mission field told me she put on her reference:
"Lora would be a really good missionary because she has the ability to laugh at the absurd."
I realize now that while I definitely have the ability to laugh at the absurd, I'd forgotten to do so. Probably part of why the last few years have been very, very hard.
So here's to laughing at the absurd. I wonder if I can somehow get that dang cat wallpaper back that I had a few years ago. Just kidding. Maybe.
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Saturday, July 14, 2012
When we arrived at the parsonage for the first time, my friend Cynthia bestowed upon me a gift of sock yarn and some needles...and a Yankees garbage can, but that is another story entirely.
I had never successfully knitted before, and she was determined that I would. The yarn was called "Vegas Lights," both a tribute to my hometown and her love of bright colors. I eventually knitted that ball of yarn into my first handmade pair of socks, and wore them until I wore them out. Cynthia's philosophy was that if I learned to knit socks first, I'd never be scared of anything. It worked, mostly. Knitting lace still petrifies me.
Today, as I prepare to move out of the same parsonage, she gave me another gift of sock yarn and needles (metal sock yarn needles...I'm really excited to try these babies out). The color was touching and reflected another interest....I'm going to have Tardis blue socks!
Thank you, Cynthia.
Sunday, July 08, 2012
I deluded myself into thinking I wasn't going to cry, today...but how could I not? The tears started coming the first hymn which was "Come Unto Me Ye Weary"(LSB 684). One of the unique features about our church is that "Come unto me all ye who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" is written on the front of the church. When we were here in seminary 15 years ago, I used to go driving up Coldwater, and when Jeff was called here, I remembered the church because of that.
And the tears came again when the Introit said "For the Lord has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place."
"A Mighty Fortress" was the sermon hymn, and I know it was because at Jeff's installation, he didn't know that, in the Midwest, people stand for "A Mighty Fortress." This time, he told me later, it got done right. :)
Then three wonderful children were welcomed to The Table through the rite of First Communion Before Confirmation. I am so proud of Zion for that; for studying and allowing allowing the children of the congregation to go to Communion when they were ready, not just when they were old enough, my children included.
One of the Communion hymns, "Alleluia, Sing to Jesus" has the line "Hark the songs of peaceful Zion thunder like a mighty flood." Flood indeed.
The Farewell rite, too...started with part of our wedding text -- Philippians 1:3-6
And the hugs. Lots of hugs. Lots of tears. Lots of joy, too.
Not feeling too eloquent today....just contemplative.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
The ones in purple, I've read. I think I might start working on the list over the next few years.
There are definitely books on here that I really have no desire to read, and there are books by the same authors that I have read and loved. But I would like to look back in five years and know that I have greatly increased the number of books that I have read!
Thursday, June 07, 2012
Up at the top, in Vanimo, there is a border crossing, and facing outward into Indonesia is this:
I love it.
(picture courtesy of Jaime at My Amazing Paradise, Papua New Guinea)
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
When my sister came up to camp to visit me that Summer, she asked if there were any guys in the picture. I replied, "There's one that I kind of like, I have no idea how he feels. But he's going to be a missionary. I don't see how that can work."
Then my sister shocked me with the most "religious" advice she ever gave me. "Lora, if God puts this man into your life, who are you to say no?"
Jeff went on a short term trip to India, but we agreed not to consider anything long-term until I got my Master's degree. Life happened, and so did children, and my studies slowed to a snail's pace, and in the meantime, God called Jeff to serve some beautiful congregations in the United States. We've been truly blessed by Mount Olive and Zion.
When we came back to Indiana, Jeff earned his STM, partially in the hopes of being able to do some short term teaching overseas, training pastors. Working with field workers here has been one of his favorite parts of being here, and being able to teach at the seminary occasionally has been a great joy.
So when Jeff was asked to consider a call to a seminary to teach men to be pastors in Papua New Guinea, this time, it didn't seem freaky, not in the least. It seemed right, to both of us.
So on Trinity Sunday, Jeff announced that he would be taking the call to Papua New Guinea that I very briefly mentioned a couple of weeks ago. It will be a long journey for us. That Master's degree that I wanted to finish? It will (God willing) be finished in April or May, but I have an internship first. Chris has braces to finish with and is putting extra effort into getting his Eagle Scout done. Jeff will need to work to raise funds. I will help him where I can.
We will be going to orientation and then moving out of the parsonage into a house in Fort Wayne while we make these preparations. Ten or eleven months is a long time, and I know that we have encountered Satan's attacks before while heading to a call. God is merciful and gracious, but your prayers would be most welcome and desired.
P.S. If you want to see some amazing pictures of the general area we'd be living in, check out this post at My Amazing Paradise, Papua New Guinea. Birip Mission Station is along the Highlands Highway, in between Wapanamanda and Wabag. I'll post some other pictures soon.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Please pray for us as we consider this possibility.
Please pray for the fifteen other possible missionaries who received calls to serve in various places.
Also, please pray for our congregation here at Zion Ev. Lutheran Church and for our brothers and sisters in Papua New Guinea .
Further details in the near future :D
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Friday, May 04, 2012
Over the past couple of years, my family and I have become completely addicted to British t.v. Doctor Who, Robin Hood, Downton Abbey, and Top Gear (my kids talk about putting the groceries in the boot, and have even mentioned the windscreen).
I've been trying to fall asleep without the t.v. on, since the light is bad for the sleep cycle, and maybe many other things, but in order to have some noise, I've been loading the Netflix app on my cell phone, and playing Downton Abbey with the screen off.
I'm finding that when I wake up, I have a British accent for about five minutes. When I demonstrated to my husband, he said "well, at least it is like the housemaid." I can only he meant Anna and not Miss O'Brien. :P
Sunday, April 08, 2012
Who in the end is man's enemy? Death. Who defeated death? The promised one from Abraham's line -- Jesus Christ. So now when we enter the gate of death, Christ holds the gate for us, and it is no longer our Enemy's territory, because Christ is victorious over death.
Alleluia. He is risen!
Tuesday, April 03, 2012
Back in college, my friend Dave was one of the closest things we had to a hippy at our school, besides the jeans, t-shirts and, Goodwill vests, and sandals, he brought his guitar on campus all the time. He was going to teach me how to play.
So I asked my dad for a guitar. And my dad, who knew pawn shops were cool WAY before the History Channel, went and found me a 12 string Yamaha acoustic electric, complete with a plaquard underneath the hole that said "Praise the Lord." I almost died (after all, I'm a liturgical Lutheran)....but it was a nice guitar. I did say a prayer for the poor praise band guy who apparently had to hock his guitar. But the guitar came with a promise. I'd give it back if I didn't learn how to play it.
Right at that time, though, Dave got busy with a new girlfriend, and I took 24 credits trying to graduate before my wedding, and that got set aside. My dad never actually mentioned a deadline, so I still have the guitar. And today both Maggie and I are going to go have our first lesson.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Winters are usually a hard challenge for me. Cold descends and depression hits. This winter wasn't as bad. I'm not sure what made it easier. I'm sure the milder weather didn't hurt, because cold spells were interspersed between periods of weather in the 40's, which felt like 70, comparatively. The air was invigorating.
One other thing that I did as well, I supplemented with amino acid precursors. After studying how drugs work in the brain, I also ended up reading a book called The Mood Cure by Julia Ross, MA. The author stated that what antidepressants do (and other mood altering drugs), is that either they force the neurons to make a neurotransmitter that they may not really have the building blocks for and therefore strain the system, or prevent the reabsorption or "reuptake" of certain neurotransmitters. Having these present helps the brain to function, and helps to reglate mood.
Neurotransmitters are made from amino acids. According to Ross, the difference between treating inattention, depression, non-incident related anger, anxiety, and other problems is that the brain doesn't have enough of the amino acids to build off of. Antidepressants, caffeine, antianxiety drugs sometimes stop working because they continue to deplete the resources that are never quite built up.
So I decided to try her recommendations to see if they made a difference. The nice thing is, amino acid precursors are relatively easy to find, and not expensive. They often have "L-" in front of their names, because that indicates that they are a precursor. If you take an amino acid, it will not cross the blood-brain barrier, but the body can take the precursor- the building blocks of an amino acid, and use them to make them. The other nice thing is, according to Ross, is that they build up the body's supply. When you are resupplied, you don't need to take them anymore.
One of the ones I tried was L-Tyrosine. It is supposed to make you more alert, but generally not jittery. She has steps for determining the proper dose, so if you ever look into this more, please read her book.
This was recommended for lethargy, which is a big part of SAD. There was a side effect that I hadn't planned on. It made me jittery when I drank caffeine. I wasn't jittery normally, and caffeine normally doesn't make me jittery. I can drink it right before I sleep. It actually relaxes me. I didn't like that. Within a few days of starting the L-Tyrosine, I had NO DESIRE for caffeine. It wasn't that I was making a huge effort to get off of it. I just didn't want it. I did go through the headache and flu-like symptoms when I stopped, but got past that, and it was gone.
I stopped taking L-Tyrosine a couple of months ago; by the New Year. I just kind of stopped, which is what she said might happen if you had enough. I don't really crave caffeine at all now. I have an iced tea now and again, but it doesn't taste as good because the craving isn't making it taste as good.
My moods have been much more stable this Winter. I tend toward anger when I'm depressed. But mood-wise, it has been a very calm Winter as well. No rages, no sullenness. A few bouts of depression for a day here or there, but nothing that was really hard. I don't know for sure, but I think the caffeine was probably responsible for the mood swings as well. I know that it is responsible for a good portion of my touch sensitivity, because it comes back when I have one.
It's been nice to enjoy my kids and my husband this past Winter. I'm still REALLY glad that Spring is here.
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
In the story of Cain and Abel, Luther addressed a question that I have had for a long time. "If Cain was sentenced to roam, then why is it that he founded the first city?"
Luther compared Adam's being cast out of the Garden to when Cain was cast out. When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden, they had the promise of the Messiah and the promise of God's protection. Cain was not given that. He was not given a direction to go. He could go east, west, north, south. He could work hard to prosper, and have no promise that it would benefit him. He was cast away from his family, never to see them again, and no promise about his progeny and what would become of them.
So while Cain founded the first city, there was no promise that it would prosper and continue to prosper. There was no promise that his children would survive, and in fact, every descendant he had was destroyed in The Flood. Cain did not have God's blessing on what would come.
There were two things that God promised, though. If someone killed Cain, he would be severely punished, and that Cain would have a wife. Luther states that this was done for two reasons. It was an act of mercy that gave time for Cain to repent. It was also an act of "uncovenanted mercy" for the sake of the elect, so that those who were his descendents who were elect could be saved. Cain was meant to have children who would come to faith. After all, Seth's descendants would come into contact and even marry some of the descendants of Cain's, and hear the Word of God proclaimed.
There are two kinds of promises, Luther explains. The first, legal promises, depend on our own works. When God tells the Children of Israel that they will prosper as long as they keep His commandments, that is a legal promise. This also explains why God seems so "temperamental" and can change His mind when prophets beg God to stay his judgement and not destroy the people whenever He threatens to. God has every right to destroy the Israelites when they depart from His will at any time He wants, but He also can hold back and wait to see if they continue to rebel against His will.
The question "If thou doest well, shall not thy countenance be lifted up?" in Genesis 4:7, that is said to Cain is also of this type. And Luther points out that moral nations do tend to prosper and have better order than immoral nations. As Lutherans, we don't like to say "God sent this hurricane because of our wickedness" and in a sinful world, that is correct, we really cant judge whether or not an individual act is a punishment for wickedness. But on the whole, a nation that behaves well, prospers. Empires that fall into wickedness tend to decline.
But there is another type of promise, the promise of grace. These have no threats of what will happen if our end is not kept. "I will put enmity between thee and the woman," "I will write the law in their inward parts, in their heart will I write it: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." are examples of promises of grace. Because He made these promises that were in no way dependent upon our works, He will keep them under any and all circumstances.
Adam had promises of grace. Cain also should've had that promise, a life that was guided by God that would also lead to the eventual birth of the Savior of mankind. But Cain killed his brother and refused to repent, refused to come to God for mercy. So Cain's direction would not be guided by God or blessed by God. That is what made Cain a vagabond and a wanderer.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Here's the innate problem, where we as a culture have messed up completely: Somewhere along the line, we've decided that the key to happiness has become what we do for a living, and that the dream of dreams is to have the job we want. One of the first questions we ask kids as we encounter them, the question we ask to get to know them is "what do you want to be when you grow up?" And we don't mean a husband or a wife, a mother or a father. Those are kind of taken for granted. We'll probably all do that, and because of birth control, we'll do that when it is most convenient for us. And if our husband or wife gets in the way of the dream for a career, or they want more time and consideration than our career will afford them, then we can divorce them. If our kids need someone to look out for them, we have daycare.
We don't raise our sons to view the role of husband to be the most important and desired. We don't raise our daughters to prize the role of wife and to put it first.
As a culture, marriage and parenthood are accessories to a good life, and that good life comes from the job. Personal meaning and self-worth come from the job. And the weird thing is, the receptionist who makes $9.00 an hour thinks this as much as the CEO who makes a million a year. And as Pastor Christopher Gillespie asks so eloquently today, " Is motherhood a rock-bottom job for those who can’t do more, or those who are satisfied with drudgery? "
Raising children is rough, and it certainly can get in the way of reaching our personal dreams of wealth, career, and freedom. But in the end, if the primary value is that our true purpose is found within our family, and that being a husband or a wife is where our prime focus is, and when men have the same concept of responsibility to family and self-sacrifice, then their dreams are second to providing for the family as well.
When marriage is out of the picture in relationship to children, it does all fall on the woman. And when sex, rather than marriage is valued, then it all falls down and it becomes okay to kill another human being, worse yet, one's own children, in order to reach your own personal dream.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
But the criticism is entirely unfair. He was being trapped.
In 2003, Rick Santorum came under criticism because he disagreed with the 1965 Supreme Court decision of Griswald vs. Connecticut. This case has been used to argue that homosexuality, abortion, polygamy, etc. are constitutional, because the Court determined that there is an extended right to privacy in the Constitution. However, originally, the case was about the state of Connecticut's right to ban the sale of contraceptives. Back in 1965, a lot of states banned this. As Romney stated, there isn't a state out there now that even wants to ban the sale of contraceptives. With socialized medicine and welfare, it is a lot cheaper to prevent the birth of a child than to provide medical care and food for that child.
However, Romney is in a dubious place. As a former Mormon bishop, if he says no, states do not have this right, he risks ticking off the Mormon church, whose theology encourages large families. If he says yes, in principle, he alienates almost everyone else who believes that sexuality without procreation is a human right.
Romney made a dodge of the issue, which really is a complete non-issue. A rather clumsy dodge, but a dodge all the same. He wasn't saying that he didn't know the Constitution, but that he was passing it off on someone else, since it was clearly a stupid question. But I believe (and I am not sure) that Romney's health care program provided for birth control.
However, what this makes clear is that the media is gearing up on a full-court press on Santorum, and they are attempting to determine what others are going to say on this matter.