PASTOR, HUSBAND

What a morning… I was at the home of a member of my congregation this morning to help her with a clogged drain in the kitchen sink.  It was pretty disgusting.  Water just started coming up from the drain when she turned the water on.  It stunk and had all sorts of food particles in it.  It’s one of those two sink jobs, so when she would run the disposal, the drain in the other sink would shoot up water like the Old Faithful Geyser.  Okay, maybe it wasn’t that bad, but water was shooting up.

So, first things first, I started plunging.  That did nothing but take the water from one sink, and send it to the other sink.  So then I tried what I will now call the “double plunge” in which I took two plungers and tried to plunge both drains at the same time.  Still nothing, but maybe a chuckle from the woman watching me.  Then I decided to plunge one sink to empty out the other sink, then use the other plunger as a cap in the empty sink (since when I tried it with the actual cap, the cap just blew off).  I thought I had an angel working with me as the plunger in the empty sink started to plunge all on its own as I plunged the drain in the sink full of water…nope, it was the law of plunging physics in action as when I plunged it one hard time, the other plunger shot out of the sink (I’m pretty sure an angel would have been able to hold the plunger).

I then decided to keep the one sink dry by plunging the other sink full, and then dumped Drano kitchen crystals in what I thought was the “empty drain”.  After following the directions and releasing the plunger, all that I just dumped in the drain came up and I was back to square one with two sinks half full of nasty old kitchen water.

At this time, I decided to head under the sink to begin to take apart pipes.  This would probably be a good time to mention that I know absolutely nothing about plumbing (as if you haven’t guessed that already).  I undo the pipes and the sinks drain out their water and various food particles.  I figured I’d have a clog full of nasty that I would have to clean out…but nope, nothing.  The pipe was empty, not terribly clean, but empty enough to know that water could flow through it.  So I connect it all together again, run the water and after a couple of seconds it starts to back up again.  Needless to say, I’m pretty irritated an hour and a half into this job, but I’m pretty sure I have a good understanding of what needs to be done.

I drain out the sinks again by disconnecting the pipes, put them all back together and use the handy Drano crystals again, this time in what I know is an empty drain.  After two doses and one quick plunge, it was all good and the lady had her sink back.

What did I learn from all this?  Well, while I was doing all this, I was really thinking, “I should be doing ‘real’ ministry right now.  You know, sitting at my desk doing prep work for any of my upcoming teachings or sermons; maybe heading to a nursing home and visiting with some folks there; possibly walking down the street and sharing my faith; how about heading over to the local food pantry to see if I could be of assistance there, etc., etc., etc.” (That was a short list, by the way, of things that pastors do  who are in full-time ministry in case you ever wondered.)  I was then reminded of a message I heard from a guy named Josh McDowell at a youth pastor’s conference I attended about 8 years ago.

In the middle of the message he said, “Your family should never come before your ministry.”  I’m surprised no one fainted or died from the lack of oxygen from the one large collected gasp of the roughly 5,000 people in the auditorium.  Why the response?  Every pastor knows the order of priority in his/her life is God, then family and then ministry.  We all thought we were seeing the end of Josh McDowell and his ministry.  Then he said, “Your family should be your number one ministry.”  ‘Nuff said…point made!

Wait! What?!?! How did you learn that lesson?

Oops, my bad…forgot to tell you, the congregation member at the beginning of the story is my wife.

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HUSBAND

Stevie and I have been married for over 11 years now…and it really has been great.  Those 11 years didn’t just happen as many of you “marriage veterans” know.  There are a lot of little things that went into the building of this marriage: love, prayer, comfort, encouragement, deep discussions, sex, arguing, crazy situations that just make you laugh…that’s the one I want to talk about today.

The musician Seal came out with a song some time ago called “Crazy”.  I read the lyrics and being that I’m not very poetic, they didn’t make much sense to me outside of the line, “We’re never going to survive unless we are a little crazy”.  I think there’s some truth to that line when it comes to marriage.  I think marriages need some “craziness” to survive.  And by “crazy”, I mean things spouses do to stretch each other and “spice up” the marriage.

The level of craziness within a marriage isn’t all that important, as long as long as there is some craziness at least a couple of times a month…but for giggles, let’s say you measure craziness on a scale from 1 to 10.  One would be encouraging your spouse to try something else at Taco Bell besides the Burrito Supreme, minus onions, tomatoes and red sauce, add sour cream; soft taco supreme minus tomatoes and a Mountain Dew and a 10 would be skydiving, cliff jumping, climbing Mt. Everest or going on vacation in August with all the kids to Florida in a station wagon with leather seats and no a/c.

This last weekend, Stevie and I performed what I would say is about a three on the crazy scale.  We bought paint for our entry way, living room and dining room on Friday at about 10pm.  Drove the 40 minute drive home and started painting…yes, at 11pm-ish and refused to sleep until it was done at 9am on Saturday…which meant we didn’t sleep until a brief nap on Saturday afternoon because the kids were up in the morning.  Why did we do this?  Two reasons…first, it really is the only time to paint the main living areas of your home when you have four children ranging in ages from 9 months to 7 years old.  Second, “Because we’re never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy”!  No, this is not a date night I would have actually planned out, but it was a great time and Stevie and I laughed a lot…so what if it was because we were slap happy by 4:30am…we laughed!  To top it off, we have one more thing in the coming years to look back and say, “Remember that time…what were we thinking?”

What crazy things have you done recently or are planning to do in your marriage (seriously, leave a comment below…I would love to you know)?

I leave you with the immortal words of Jack Buck, “Go crazy folks, go crazy!”

PASTOR, HUSBAND

Is the honeymoon period coming to an end?  So many look at “the honeymoon has ended” phrase rather negatively.  Supposedly all the good stuff is done.  I think that’s kind of sad.  I like to look at it more as, “Though the honeymoon may be ending, it’s now time to lay the building blocks of a relationship that will last 10, 20…50 years or more.”  All married couples remember their honeymoon, but there is so much more to the relationship.  The couple is not going to be able to spend the rest of their married lives going to work, coming home, eating dinner together, curl up on the couch, watch a romantic movie, whisper sweet nothings to each other, off to bed…and then wake up in the morning to do it all over again.  At some point, someone’s not going to want to watch that romantic movie.  At some point, someone’s going to check the checking account and get upset that someone may have bought one too many latte’s that week.  At some point, someone’s going to pull their hair out trying to pay a bill that they might not have the money for.  At some point, someone’s going to have something negative to say about their mother-in-law…yikes (I love my mother-in-law…seriously, I do.)  At some point, someone’s going to say something out of anger or frustration and the inevitable argument, most likely fight, is going to break out.  (If you’re newly married and reading this, trust me and gobs of other married couples…it’s going to happen.)  The honeymoon is over, and it’s usually through some negative action that the phrase is brought about.

That’s kind of what’s happening with me now in my new position here as pastor of St. James.  I’ve been able to start doing the things I’ve dreamed of for some time now…sharing my vision to the congregation, preaching with passion on Sunday morning, teaching deep truths from the Word of God, praying with those in need, providing spiritual counsel, talking to the air conditioning repair man concerning the problem from Sunday of it being 90 degrees outside and an uncomfortable 84 degrees in the sanctuary…wait, what was that last one?  Okay, that wasn’t part of my pastoral dream…however, it’s part of being a pastor.

That argument between the couple mentioned above probably wasn’t a part of the dream of marriage, but it is a part of the marriage.  When negative things happen, the couple needs to work through it, learn from it and build their marriage.  The A/C breaking down is a negative part signaling the beginning of the end of the honeymoon period of my pastorate.  However, I’m about to dive into the school of budgeting and fund-raising to figure out effective ways to raise the $8,000-$10,000 dollar price tag to replace the system…I’ve already learned the workings of the A/C unit, not sure exactly how I can build my pastorate on that knowledge, but you never know. (As a side not, yes, I know the future holds much more difficult situations in the church.)

Anyway you look at it, though (in both situations mentioned) it’s an opportunity to see the Lord do great things and put more trust in Him.  The honeymoon may be ending, but the building blocks of even greater things are being put into place!