Pastor Appreciation Month >>> O C T O B E R

Did you know October is ‘Pastor Appreciation Month’? Well. It is. And. Now you know. So, along with halloween and fall leaves turning colors, among other important things, October is a time to celebrate your local Pastor. However, the truth is – You might not care to know this information unless:

  1. You are a Pastor
  2. You like Pastors
  3. You like church

If you find yourself falling into one of the above 3 categories, please. Read On. Otherwise, this post means nothing to you.

We are Pastors. So we happen to be in-the-know that ‘Pastor Appreciation Month’ exists. We also met and started dating while working together in a Christian book store, when we were babies. Every October we sold thoughtful cards and fine gifts for church members to shower upon their Pastors, with love and care.

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Here we are (as babies) selling Jesus Junk to all of our Christian customers 🙂

Every October ‘Pastor Appreciation’ appears on the calendar, and we are reminded it’s our month to be appreciated! It can be an awkward month for us, as Pastors. What if we are not being appreciated this month? Do we remind our congregation? Don’t forget – set your clocks – this is the month we need to be appreciated! It’s a lot of pressure.

To be honest, it can be a weird month for Pastors, because:

  1. Pastors and church people are weird
  2. Pastors and church people are sensitive
  3. Pastors are uncomfortable with drawing attention to themselves….. although yes. there are some exceptions to this rule. But, really it’s like our job to draw attention to Jesus.

So Pastors have few options in October:

  1. Slip hints slyly to “remind” their congregation they need appreciating
  2. Pretend they don’t care and it won’t hurt their feelings if Pastor Appreciation month is forgotten altogether
  3. Avoid all eye contact with the congregation for the entire month

Pastors can develop anxiety from ‘Pastor Appreciation Month’. I’ve seen it happen. Well. not really, but still it might happen and we just don’t know about it. So for us, we don’t mention Pastor Appreciation Month. It feels strange to say “Hey. Hey you guys. Hey all you peeps who go to our church. Yeah. You. It’s time to appreciate us….. Or else.”

Or else what? I don’t know. It just sounds demanding.

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But we are not demanding people….. or Pastors. Of course, we appreciate being appreciated. But to devote a whole month to the cause…..? hmmm, whose idea was this, anyway? Probably a Pastors idea.

The truth is – October can be a stressful time for churches trying to show sincere appreciation for their Pastors. Seriously. There is an entire list of suggestions on how to appreciate your Pastor. I am thankful our church was not hysterically stressing out and having a panic attack to show us appreciation and love this month. At least I don’t think they were stressed… hmmm?

We were SO LOVED last Sunday by our beautiful congregation. We were overwhelmed by the appreciation they showered on us ~ Words of love and encouragement. An amazing slide show of pictures and memories captured in the past year, set to beautiful Worship. A coupon book ~ because they know we LOVE using coupons! Money for an overnight get-away and gift cards to our favorite coffee shop ~ Longbottom Coffee!!! All we could say was WOW. Seriously Wow. We were blown away by the love and appreciation they lavished upon us.

To our congregation:

  1. Thank you for loving us and showing your appreciation this month and year round.
  2. Thank you for sharing your lives with us.
  3. Thank you for knowing US and for being YOU!!!

So – boys and girls – make sure to appreciate your Pastors this month so they won’t be depressed (and next month, and the next)! And don’t stress yourself out over finding the perfect gift! That’s not helpful to anyone. But act fast >>> Today is the last Sunday in October, to appreciate your Pastor. And Hope Vineyard Church ~ thank you, thank you, thank you. We love you, and we know we are loved and appreciated this month and beyond!!!

To conclude this lovely post I wanted to share a blessing our church prayed over us for our Pastor Appreciation last Sunday ~

A blessing of what God is already doing in and through you as pastors of Hope Vineyard:
May you be blessed to be adventurous in spirit, and submitted to God’s voice.
May you be blessed to hold a grievous heart for the lost and broken, and faithfully preach God’s Truth.
May you be blessed to desire and accept collaboration and the voice of those trusted, but never sit aside your God-given authority to lead.
May you be blessed to desire God’s excellence, and not afraid to promote other’s ideas, leadership, and dreams.
May you be blessed to love your God with all your heart, soul, mind; serve His church all the days of your life; and love, serve, and care-taking your family well.

Thank you for reading… and sharing… and appreciating Pastors! In Him, Leslie

The Gift within The Grief {The grief of losing a child and the gift of a receiving a church}

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On October 22nd, 2008 we lost our lives. We lost our lives as they had been... As we had planned them… As we had hoped for them to be… 7 years ago, our world turned upside down and we walked down a path we never anticipated. We said yes to things we would never have chosen. And we said goodbye to dreams we never wanted to let go of. Sometimes when you can tell the story, the full healing comes.

7 years ago we lost a child. 7 years ago we gained a church.

In 2008 we were on staff at a beautiful church in Ohio, in a suburb outside of Columbus. We had been on staff since 2005, and for many reasons finances were tight and we were being let go. We were pregnant with our third child.

Our dreams were coming true in a way we did not anticipate. We had hoped to eventually church plant in the Northwest. We were at complete peace and rest to leave Ohio and go… somewhere… heading in the direction of the Northwest. We weren’t sure exactly where, and we pursued the possibility of other church jobs in the Ohio area as well. Prepared to leave, we shared with our church the Trust we knew was holding us, and the Confidence we had in Christ caring for us thru all time. We prepared to say goodbye.

On the evening of October 22nd, I began experiencing cramping and bleeding. A friend came over and took communion with me, and prayed with me. I spoke with another friend on the phone as she talked me thru the very painful process of losing our child.

A few days prior, we had been to the Dr and she said there was no heartbeat on the ultrasound. I didn’t believe the news. We were praying for healing and revival of the baby and over my body. I was praying it would not happen, but I was having a miscarriage.

The same evening, we received a call from our Pastor and he wanted to meet with Adam. Although we were in the middle of a terrible loss, I told him to go. I sensed very strongly he was to go. The timing was awful. Our life circumstances were in turmoil. We had no job and we were losing our baby. Our Pastor had no idea what we were experiencing in those moments. But I knew. I knew God would be my strength thru the loss. I knew the Holy Spirit would be my comforter. And I knew Adam should go and meet with our Pastor.

It is not by chance we experienced a great loss and a great gain on the same day.

That evening our Pastor offered the gift of our church. He and his wife made the decision to step down and he was recommending Adam and I to now lead the church. We were prepared to leave, and grieve our church and our child. But that evening we said Yes and accepted a gift we never expected.

We spent the next 6 years Pastoring our beautiful church in Ohio. It was a grand adventure. In this season I heard the Lord speak many words. One was “You will have another baby … I will bless you with twins.” My heart soared with great hope when He spoke those words. December 31, 2009 ~ we had a Selah. 

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We never had twins, so doubt has stirred in my heart and mind about half of the word my Father spoke to me… but I know the doubt is not from Him. There is grief surrounding the desire for more children. There will always be a loss or someone missing in our family. But we Trust. The past 7 years have been a journey of unexpected joy and sorrow. We don’t know what the future holds, but we trust there will be a season of more to come…..

Thank you for reading and sharing. In Him, Leslie

*October 15th is pregnancy and infant loss awareness day. If you have grieved your own loss or stood with someone who has, you understand the pain. 

Life’s a beach in Oregon.

We’ve been Oregonians for five weeks now… aaaand… what does it even mean to be an ‘Oregonian’, you might ask? While I’m certain the answer varies from peeps to peeps, for us ‘Life in Oregon’ has been a b**ch. It’s been HARD. but hey, we’ve been to the beach. and that’s really why we’re here. Well, not really. but it helps. It helps to know when things are hard, we can go to the beach :).

When our cars break down… we can hitchhike to the beach.
When we can’t find a rental house… we can live with our parents… who live close to the beach.
When our kids are fighting… we can yell at them… and then take them to the beach… where no one ever fights.
When homeschooling at home sucks… we can go exploring… and learn something new… at the beach.
When we’re stressed out from moving cross-country, living out of boxes in disorganized chaos, living with our parents, starting over, Pastoring at a new church, selling our house we left in Ohio, and homeschooling in the middle of it all… we can say ‘screw it’ and head to the beach!

We’ve been to the beach twice since we’ve moved to the Pacific Northwest, and it’s been wonderful. I wish I could say things have been smooth sailing, and coasting on over to the beach has swept away all our problems, but no. Since we’ve moved, we have walked on water thru some very hard days. Wave after wave, the difficult circumstances have washed over us. At times, treading water, at times being pulled under. Sooo many days, I’ve wanted to run away to the beach, but there’s been too much to do. And reality is – life is hard – and we have to walk thru trials and circumstances without going to the beach to escape.

Have you ever worn a wetsuit? They are a pain in the ass to put on. Imagine squeezing a watermelon into some pantyhose. That’s me – squeezing myself into a wet suit. The last time we went to the beach, I was so frustrated with squeezing myself into the wetsuit, and I was very close to giving up. Selah was in the bathroom with me, encouraging me to finish putting on my freakin’ wetsuit. “C’mon mom, you’re almost done.” I was so glad she did. The time spent in the ocean was amazing. Although I was frustrated with the work it took to put on the suit, I knew I would regret not going into the water.

If you want to enjoy the Oregon coast, you need a wetsuit. You can dance on the waters edge without one, but if you dare to go deeper, you need a wetsuit. We can dance on the edge of Christianity without a care, but if we dare to go deeper, we need the armor of God to protect us from the enemy. 

As we prepared to move from Ohio to Oregon, I knew we would be swimming into darker, deeper waters of ministry. I knew it was going to be a lot of work. I knew our faith would be tested. I knew attacks of the enemy would come. I knew it was going to be frustrating to step into unknown territory. And I knew if we did not make this move, we would regret it.

We are not battling the raging waters. We are in a spiritual battle, unseen to the human eye. In the midst of this move, it has been easy to become distracted with the external problems, shifting our focus from the reason we are here. God prepared my spirit for this battle in prayer. As the trials have come, He has been showing me how to battle in prayer. We are here to know HIM and to make HIM known. There are times, a wetsuit and a trip to the beach seem like the ideal way to deal with the difficulties we face… but Oregon is so much more than a trip to the beach. This is a place full of people living in darkness, yearning for One they do not yet know. And I will spend my life making Him known here.

My armor is on. It is His presence. I fight from my rightful place in His presence. In His strength. His love. His hope. His joy. His peace. 

Our Story rages on… In Him, Leslie

*All water and cursing puns intended for the authenticity of this story.

5 truths about being a Pastor…

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Being a Pastor is one of the most unique jobs in the world. Second only to being a parent -or third only to being in the military- I believe it is one of the most exhausting jobs in the world. However, this is my humble opinion. Take it or leave it. It is what it is. Unless you’ve been a Pastor – you don’t know what it’s like to be a Pastor. No offense.

1. Pastoring is unique… Being a Pastor is extremely unique. Because People. People are the client… the work base… the responsibility… A Pastors job is the people they pastor. Did you know that? Now you know. You’re welcome. You never know what to expect from people. Everyday will be different based on the people Pastors interact with. Every church service is different. From attendance to sound issues, to worship choices and preaching topics, ever church service is unique. No work day is the same. We like this about being a Pastors. It’s never dull.

2. There is no standard answer … For every spiritual or Biblical opinion, question, debate, ideology, understanding and expectation… there can be a myriad of answers and angles to find the answers. Following Christ is a life long journey of learning. Yes, ‘the Bible tells me so’. Jesus loves me. Relationship with Christ, is the one and only way to God the Father. However, for some of the questions people have, there are not always simple answers. Because People. People are complicated. There is no straight forward Pastoral policy and procedure handbook given out to every Pastor when they become a Pastor. The Holy Spirit has to be our guide. Because People… Complicated People. They need to know God’s love and God’s truth. We like this about being Pastors… teaching, counseling, learning and growing God’s Word. It’s never dull.

3. There is little time off… The pastors primary job is to Shepherd the people in their church… while dealing with a dysfunctional copy machine, budget decisions, preparing and planning for services, organizing outreaches and volunteers, overseeing staff, plunging clogs in the church toilet, evicting raccoons who’ve made their home in the church sanctuary… and that was just on Tuesday. There is always something to do… or someone to meet with. Work hours can vary greatly… from 50-80 hours a week. There is not always a set schedule. Many Pastors are bi-vocational working full-time while Pastoring. And time off is not always time off. In our time of Pastoring, people have decided to leave the church, and give us the news while we’re on family vacation. This is our least favorite part of Pastoring – when people leave the church. But, it is what it is. It happens. Even during our time off. There is never a dull moment, even on vacation. It’s always an adventure

4. Results are unpredictable… As a Pastor it is difficult to assess the results of your job. Jesus is your boss and your work day is never the same. Because People. The results of time serving as a Pastor will vary, depending on the people. Church growth, discipleship classes, small groups, mission trips, neighborhood outreaches, teaching and preaching, giving and tithing, financial responsibilities…  ‘Production results’ will always vary. Because People. Are people are growing and maturing in their walk with Christ? Truly knowing people are growing in Christ can be difficult to assess… by their fruits we can knowwe can make a judgement… but some would say we’re not supposed to judge one another. HA. Because People are people. Complicated people. Pastoring is always an adventure.

5. Pastors are not Superman… Pastors are 100% human. In case you weren’t sure. In case you had any doubts. Any supernatural abilities a Pastors has are solely gifts from God. They must fully rely on direction and strength 100% from God their Father, Jesus their Lord and Savior and Holy Spirit their guide. No one -not even other Pastors- can know exactly what another Pastor is going thru day to day, moment by moment… they’ll have an idea, but every church is unique to its own people. But God… He knows. He knows all, hears all, sees all, understands all. He sustains super-human Pastors in their supernatural calling. Pastoring is always an adventure. 

As we prepare to leave our current Pastoral role and move into a season of unknowns, we are grateful. We are grateful for the Pastoral journey we have walked. We are grateful for the growth we have experienced thus far… and the learning we have yet to do. We are grateful the journey has never been dull and always been an adventure. At times very difficult, but never dull. Most of all, we are grateful to serve our amazing Lord, to whom no one can compare. He walks with us, beside us, around us. He goes before us, He is our rear guard. We know Him, we see Him, we hear Him, and we trust Him… in everything that has been and will be.

Our story rages on… In Him, Leslie