9.26.2012

The Very Worst Pastor's Wife.


So I'm... like.... a pastor's wife.

It's ok. You can laugh.

I'm not technically a “Pastor's wife” because my husband is a Director, not a Pastor. But his role is pretty pastorly, y'know, with the whole “leading of the flock” bit. And he does pastor duties, and he reads pastorish kinds of books, and a lot of church people call him “Pastor El Chupacabra”, or something like that. So he's like almost, pretty much, very nearly a pastor.

And that makes me very nearly a Pastor's Wife... or, *ahem*... a “PW”, as we like to call it in the business.

MTV should totally make a show about us. Like “Mob Wives”, but with less vodka and leopard print bras, and more iced-tea and denim dresses. Doesn't that sound exciting?!

But, seriously, there should be a rule book or something for us newbie Pastor's wives. A pocket-guide for navigating those first few months.

Some things are obvious; Like, I'm aware that I should only use friendly swear word stand-ins when I'm chatting it up with strangers in the lobby. I mean, Duh!

But, I went to a Women's ministries thing a few weeks ago, and there was a raffle. So, without even thinking, I put my stupid card in the stupid basket, and then, when they started pulling names and giving away prizes, a wave of panic washed over me because I realized that I was a freaking pastor's wife now and if I walked away with a prize I would feel like a real douche. I don't even know why... I just felt uncomfortable about it. I sat there, imagining how I'd react if I won. For a second I thought, “Oh, I'll just say 'no thanks' and tell them to pull another name.” But then I thought, “It's all good! If I win, I'll just run up there, grab my prize, and shout something funny". And then I got to thinking about how what I think is funny isn't always what everyone else thinks is funny and how other people might not be amused if I shouted, “HELL YEAH, I WON! I'M A PASTOR'S WIFE, BITCHES!!!” By the time I was done completely overanalyzing the situation, the raffle was over and I hadn't won. Thank God!

But if there was a manual, I could have just referred to Chapter 3 of Section 1; “Navigating the Ginger & Pear Scented Air of Women's Ministries, where I would have found an answer and moved on with my life. But no. I just sat there, worrying about how I might actually slip up one of these days and refer to the group at the Ladies Fellowship Christian Brunch thingy as “my bitches”.

Siiiiigh.

See how hard this is? I don't even know what I'm doing!

I need a rulebook with a foldable tear-out of handy tips that I can keep in my purse. I need advice. Like:

NEVER say 'nice to meet you' while shaking hands in the Church lobby, as you've probably already met this person 11 times.

NEVER snicker when the head pastor prays that you or anyone else will be “penetrated by the Holy Spirit."

NEVER ask the coffee servers for a bigger coffee cup because your addiction is 'off the chain'.

NEVER admit you were late for church because your teenager was 'being a total A-hole' and you spent the last 25 minutes screaming at him to change his punk-ass attitude.

NEVER try to embarrass the dirtbag who let one rip during Communion by loudly wondering, “WHO FARTED?!” or angrily exclaiming, "OMG, I CAN TASTE THAT!"

And?

ALWAYS feign an appropriate amount of interest in the blah blah blah of people who are being unusually nice to you because they think that if you're friends, your husband will fund their ministry ideas.

Now, that's all just crap I've picked up from experience in my first 8 weeks! 

Moving forward I could use a chapter on how to dress like I'm poor and I don't care, how to pretend I'm nice, and how to wear my PW hair. Also, I really don't like dealing with other people's goopy miserable kids, so I won't be volunteering in the nursery - I need to know what the appropriate alternatives are.

Rules. Guidelines. I need some structure, people. 

...But, really, who am I kidding?... I'm not about following the rules.  And they knew that when they hired me.... erm... my husband.

....    .....     .....

Anything you've learned (from being a Pastor's wife, or from interacting with Pastor's wives) that I need to know? 

C'mon. Help a sister out! 


9.17.2012

Read between the lines.


Welp. Yesterday was my birthday. Again. *sigh*

The years seem to be going faster, don't they?

I don't know how that works, but let me assure you; it's a thing. As you age, time passes more quickly, gravity actually gets heavier, and your bladder shrinks to the size of a peanut. Before you know it, you wake up one morning and you're thirty-effing-seven, droopy all over, and living your whole life on the brink of wetting yourself. I'm sorry. That's just how it is. There's nothing you can do about it.... unless you have lots and lots of money... Ok. So there's nothing I can do about it.

Oh! And - as if being wrinkly, damp, and nearly dead isn't insulting enough - people keep calling me “Ma'am”. What the hell, you guys?! Ma'am??? Psssshhh! How rude is that?! They might as well be calling me “you old bag".   “Thank you for shopping at Safeway, you old bag!” When the Starbucks barista says “Here you go, Ma'am”, she's lucky I don't throw my steaming latte right in her wrinkle-free face. I just cannot abide by being told so politely that I'm old and haggard.

So I have a furrowed brow and flesh like an old paper sack. So what?! This face, this hot mess, this puckered mug - this is a freaking badge of honor.

My face tells the story of an incredible life. It's like a diary, a journal I've kept since the day I was born. My face can tell you everything about me...but you'll have to read between the lines.

If you can read between the lines, you'll see me squinting into the sun. This is what eyes look like after they've watched a ball of fire rise over the Caribbean and set over the Pacific, burn the morning mist off the Grand Canyon and slink off to hide behind the Sierras. I've stood in the shadow of pine trees and palm trees and giant oaks, dripping with moss, while the rays of the sun etched these lines around my eyes, themselves like little sunbursts, to remind me of the places I've been. These wrinkles are a road map, plain and simple, to a world that has moved me and shaped me.

Read between the lines and you'll practically hear the sound of laughter. In the lines around my lips you'll see a gazillion words have slipped by, good ones and bad ones and all the ones in between. The upturned corners of my mouth tell their own tales, in Spanish, while whispered prayers and belted-out love songs, mercy and judgement, truth and lies, condemnation and grace, all weave into the fabric of my face. It's all there - plus a divot in my bottom lip, chewed away by years of worry. These are the deep creases and soft folds of a mouth that speaks its mind, tells stories, shares from the heart, and pouts mightily when it doesn't get its way. But around these parts, the smile line reigns supreme, laughter is king, funny trumps all – so says the valley that separates my cheek from my nose. This mouth betrays my 37 years. It looks 40. I just know it.

If you read between the lines, you'll find this heavily furrowed brow is the mark of a marriage fought and died for. It's the deepest line on my face, for good reason; To die to yourself is the hardest and greatest of life's lessons – and selfishness deserves a gravestone. I carry mine right between my eyes. It's not a wrinkle, it's a scar, a reminder of my own woundedness. And it makes me look pissed, but I'm not. When people ask me what's wrong (And they do. All the time.), I want to say, “Nothing. This is just what happens when your internal battle leaks onto your face.”

If you'll read between the lines, you'll see how these rolling waves across my forehead are the flagship of motherhood; each wavy line dug in by the surprises brought by maternity. “How did you pee that far?” “Who poured honey on the dog?” “Why is the toaster in the dryer?” I know it's not ok to scream “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!?!” twenty times a day, so my creased and wrinkled forehead says it for me. This raised eyebrow conveys a myriad of emotions, all useful in propelling boys toward manhood. I'm confident that of all the good reasons I've given them, this cocked brow will surely be the thing that sends my kids to therapy. ...Yes. It's that good.

If you read between the lines, you'll see I'm 37.

Older than Jesus.

And I'm okay with it.

This shrunken face, and tiny bladder, and droopy everything are just part of life. This is my body, broken for... just kidding. But when I think about what it would take to make it to 37 wrinkle free, I can see that I would have forsaken all of the things that have made my life great.

So here's to another year, well lived under the sun! Here's to the trials that shuffle our brows and scrunch up our noses! Here's to the joys that get us grinning from ear to ear and laughing til our cheeks hurts! Here's to life! And here's to owning our old and haggard faces!!!

Happy Birthday to me. I'm old-ish and I'm pretty much cool with it.

But. If you call me “Ma'am”, I might offer you three fingers and ask you to read between the lines.

....     ....     .....

How old are you? What can your lines tell us? 

9.11.2012

Settling in.


Hi. Remember me? I'm Jamie and, uh, I used to blog here.

I haven't been around because I was super busy... y'know, settling in.

I'm not really sure how long it lasts, this “settling in” thing. All I know is that when people ask us how we're doing, that's what we say.

“We're settling in.”

Two months ago we made a big, fat, international trek from the suburbs of Costa Rica to the suburbs of California, and since then we've just been busy, busy, busy – settling in.

At home, “settling in” meant finding an affordable everything. It meant collecting beds and sheets and dishes and towels and all the stuff to keep all that other stuff clean and put away. It meant taking care of the basics. (That's code for 'buying a toilet plunger'. Trust me. You aren't settled in if you don't own a plunger.) Fortunately, we took care of the basics right away, because then “settling in” meant spending our last dime on a new air conditioner. Which sucks! But when you're trying to “settle in” during a triple digit heat wave in August, having air conditioning trumps having lamps/dressers/hand soap/bandaids/muffin tins aaaaand just about anything else you can think of.

Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of Air Conditioning. For its sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain [fresh smelling armpits and a good night's sleep].”
~ See? It's, like, practically in the Bible

For me, “settling in” at home means creating a space that my family loves to be in. Honestly, I'm still working on it. There's still a lot of scrubbing to be done, repairs to be made, walls to be painted, and I've got this ugly-ass white laminate 90's kitchen just longing for a super-cheap-but-awesome facelift. But my biggest priority has been my kid's rooms. More than anything, I want them to feel “settled in”. I want them to feel at home here. I want this house to be where they come to retreat, rest, and redeem these inevitably hard days. I want my boys to have a place to invite their new friends, a place to organize their newly homework-driven lives, a place for them to be comfortable in their own skin while they adjust to being comfortable in a new community. So (instead of blogging), I've been doing all kinds of domestic arts and crafts and junk. ….

I decoupaged a bunk bed, people. A BUNK BED.

At work, “settling in” for El Chupacabra meant setting a schedule and learning to abide by it. He's now honoring his day off, which I like a whole lot. It meant hiring an admin (Woohoo! We love you, Kim!) And it meant jumping in with both feet, getting in way over his head, and drowning in work, meetings, budget, and vision – only to come out on top and do a kickass job - because he's El Chupacabra - that's just what he does. Eight weeks in, and everywhere I go I'm reminded by others that I married an amazing guy and I get to confirm that, yes, he really is a man after God's heart. What a privilege that I'm able to see this life unfold, day by day, and have for 18 years...

Sorry, ladies. That beard is aaaaalll mine.

So that's where we're at... still “settling in”.

Our house feels more and more like ours; the chaos and conflict of daily life is returning. We yell about dumb stuff, our kids bicker like know-it-all-jerks, we act like slobs, and I burn dinner, give it a fancy name, and serve it like it's supposed to be black. “Oh, this?...This... is... Crusty Smoked Blackened Tri-tip a la Flambe Brulee. Enjoy!” Then they eat it, cuz they're cool like that.

And my heart settles in, all the more.

I lay down at night, my beloved air conditioning whirs around me, and I breath it all in. I close my eyes and thank God for this place, this church, this community. And there, in the quiet of night, I can feel my Soul, Oh, my Soul, it settles in at the foot of the cross; the very place it found Peace so long ago.

And then I remember the thing that's so easy to forget when one is busy settling in...

...I'm already home.  


....     ....     ....

So, it's been awhile, friends. How have you been?