Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Never Assume

Advertised in the Classifieds:
_______ Baptist Church seeks a full-time pastor, preferably with a seminary/divinity degree with some experience. We are a relatively small church with approximately 100 resident members. We are on a "Pursuing Vital Ministry" journey. A mission-minded fellowship, we believe in the autonomy of the church, the priesthood of the believer and ordain women deacons.

My email to the search committee:
I have a question regarding the classified advertisement in the _______. It says that you ordain women deacons. Does the inclusion of this statement mean that the church will accept and seriously consider a woman to be pastor? If so, I will send my resume.

The response I get today:
We would like to thank you for your interest in ______; however, the Pastor Search Committee feels that the congregation would not be in agreement regarding a woman serving as our senior pastor.
Jeremiah 29:11

At least they told me up front. I would have assumed that ordaining women as deacons would make them at least consider a woman in the role of pastor. Never assume....

Monday, May 29, 2006

Middle Ground

At church on Sunday, I listened for God to speak to me in the sermon. My own struggles in the past few weeks (see next post) have made me yearn to hear a sermon. Ironically, I almost thought I would miss the sermon because the nursery workers didn't show up, and I thought I'd be asked to stay in there. But I really felt that I needed a sermon, so I am glad when someone was found to watch my son (and the others).

So, the sermon was from Esther. When situations arise, usually we are left with two choices: remain comfortable or get angry. Esther did not simply remain comfortable in Xerxes court, and she did not get angry. Esther formed a middle ground that was proactive and most godly. She made a personal sacrifice.

I have been both comfortable and angry in the past months: comfortable hiding behind my children and not seeking a ministry position. And angry that there is so little support in Baptist churches for women pastors (at least where I am at in the southern US). I have explained the comfort part of that in previous posts, so let me explore the anger.

In the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, there is a support of women being ordained for the most part. That group was formed as a reaction to the SBC, so it is no surprise. The surprise comes when just how many of those CBF churches have called women to pastor. Pam Durso, a Baptist historian, has done some research in this area. She told us at the North Carolina CBF meeting this year that there are 86 pastors or co-pastors in CBF churches. That number sounds good until it is realized that there are 1,800 churches in the CBF. That is 4 percent that are led by women!

As I listened to the sermon about Esther on Sunday, I thought about how to make that personal sacrifice like Esther. Where is the middle ground in this case? Sacrifice in my situation has always meant the sacrifice I am making now to stay at home with my children—at least up until the past few months. For a moment, I wondered if I was hearing God tell me to stay at home even amid all my discontent. Then that thought went away when we sang the closing hymn: “I Love to Tell the Story.”

In my heart, I am no closer to finding a solution to my internal dilemma. But I am clear that I do love to tell the story. Now I will be holding that hymn in my heart for everything it says to me about my call and my future.

I am so glad that I got to participate in worship on Sunday. I am so glad that God finds a way to speak to me. Now if God could only tell me how to find the middle ground in my situation.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Since I started this blog earlier this year, I have been struggling with my dissatisfaction with being a stay-at-home mom. I know I am called to ministry, and I have not been looking for God's direction in that area in the past three to four years. Even my husband has picked up on my dissatisfaction and is gently pushing me to find work--even though it is difficult for me to find a position with the zero experience that I have. At least I do have a degree.

To put it bluntly, I have come to see these last few years as the ones where I have been living an idolatrous life. I have made my comfortable, predictable staying at home as my idol. It is not God that I have been following. Too comfortable, I am now trapped in my own inertia of not seeking a ministry position. I have no idea of where to start.

I am frank when people ask me if I enjoy staying at home with my boys. I tell them no. They are shocked, so I usually use the excuse that it is too much hard work (and it is). I cannot tell them that my domesticity has become my idol.

Wouldn't my sons be better served by seeing their mother follow God? If they know of my calling and see that I didn't follow it, will that not speak to them and give them a negative impression of Christian service? I am doing no one any favors by staying at home.

Friday, May 19, 2006


Two years ago today, I found out I was pregnant. My husband and I were in the process of moving. The movers were coming the next morning, and there I was with the positive pregnancy test--so I didn't tell him. The only person I told was my then 19 month old son. I knew he wouldn't tell anyone.

According to my mother-in-law, there is a Chinese superstition that pregnant women shouldn't be around construction or be allowed to help with moving because it will harm the baby. And there I was two years ago, moving into a newly constructed house. So I kept my secret.

We had to move into an extended-stay hotel for about 5 weeks before our house was completed. During that time, I scheduled an appointment with my OB for early June. The doctor was excited because it was the first time he had written the due date with the year 2005 in it. The baby was estimated to be born around January 19, 2005. Then he did the vaginal ultrasound, and the visions of my baby-to-be began to evaporate.

The ultrasounds revealed no semblance of an embryo. No heartbeat. Recheck dates—maybe it is too early. Draw blood. Wait a very long weekend to draw blood again. Hcg levels have dropped. Morning sickness has mysteriously disappeared. Tell my husband that I was pregnant and now I am not. Tell my 19 month old why mommy is crying all afternoon. Call the doctor to arrange a D&E because we are moving into our house, and I cannot wait for the blood to start. A quick outpatient procedure and I (literally) move on with my life with little time left to grieve. Time passed very quickly that summer.

The irony of it all is the reason I did not grieve last year—I was pregnant with my last baby. Eight and a half months pregnant, full of life and hope. Yet in my mind, that missing ghost baby persists. Some days I don’t think of him/her, but my life has been shaped from that experience. However, if I would have known that baby, I would not know the 10 month old that is in my house today. I was already four months pregnant with him when that January due date came around. Yet I am still haunted, and I wonder.

I think that I grieve the date I found out I was pregnant (rather than the due date or the date I went to the hospital for surgery) because it was a day that I was full of hope and innocence, full of joy and promise.

When I was pregnant with my last baby, I kept it a secret for quite a while, fearful of loss. When my friend announced she was pregnant with her first baby due this fall, I held my breath. It is so common to have a miscarriage, yet good news does deserve to be told. How much I have changed since I announced my first pregnancy!

So this day carries with it promise and disappointment, joy and grief, innocence and experience. Sounds a lot like what life is all about.

Monday, May 08, 2006


My youngest son is 10 months old. He has been pulling up on the furniture and cruising everywhere for the past few months. I think he is about to let go of the furniture very soon and take his first step. I can see it in his eyes. But for now, he takes one hand away--and there it is. For a second, he thinks about not holding on to that anchor, and then both of the hands go back to the couch. He eases to the floor and crawls to that toy or the remote control. My son just won't take that risk.

It is so hard to step out into the unknown. It is so much easier to stay comfortable. I love being comfortable. I like routine. I like counting on getting a little "me" time at the end of the day. I like knowing that my oldest son will be in preschool for a few hours a week so that errands can be completed. I like being able to call my mom on certain nights to check in with her and find out about the rest of my extended family.

Of course, if I were to stay comfortably in my routines, I would miss out on vacation time. I would not know that I can compose a very thoughtful prayer for Easter. I would not have gotten to know my neighbor. I would never have read that controversial, yet thought-provoking book. There are so many reasons to take risks, and so many rewards to be reaped.

My husband refuses to get comfortable, especially with his job. He transfers to new departments within his company, takes on new leadership roles, and continues to accept more and more responsibility. He rejects the idea that comfortable is good saying, "there is no growth; no chance to learn" when we are comfortable.

I really want to take more risks with my own life. But it is so easy to get stuck in a rut. Perhaps it is better to pray for strength to get through the day sometimes (like when your child comes down with a fever and you worry all night long about it). I struggle with where my life should go. I want to catch the vision God has for me. But I know that to do so would be taking a risk. So I find other things to take my time: does this floor need sweeping? Do the children need a bath before bed? Do I have enough time to browse around my favorite websites before bed? What in the world am I going to cook for dinner? What distractions!

At the end of the day, I am a ten month old with one hand on the couch. I think about taking the risk. Then I put both hands back on the couch and lower myself comfortably to the floor.