The Pastor's Dirty Little Secret

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The Pastor's Dirty Little Secret

Introduction 4 Robyn Riley

405.519.7223

Once Upon A Support Group 5 robynriley@gmail.com

Role Models 14

The Woman Behind the Man 19

Puppet Show 20

Managing my Husband, the Toddler 23

Please please please just write your sermon already!!! 25

Sermon Prep 27

The Newlywed Game 28

Skipping Church 30

Perfection in the Parsonage 33

Feeding the Masses 40

Twenty-Four Jars of Peanut Butter 41

Food for Thought 45

Behind Closed Doors 48

Sermon of the Day 51

Cookie Monster 52

Lube Jobs and Movies 54

Turn up the radio, or not 55

Dress Code 61

Pop (up) Art 71

Slayed by the Sunday Supper 74

Holidays or Holy Days? 81

Hi-Ho the Dairy-O the Pastor’s Wife Stands Alone 82

Be Like Jesus 86

Escape to Egypt 88

Sew in Love 89

Christ-mess 94

Christ-mess Card 96

Presents from the Pastor 100

Friends 101

Home Church 105

Jesus, My Master, Daddy and Groom 106

Preacher’s Kids 108

Welcome to the Jungle 114

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Technology and the Pastor’s Wife 116

Oh Great and Powerful Wizard 117

Stalking: The Highest Form of Flattery 123

The View from the Front Pew 128

Is this what church is supposed to look like? 130

Sermon Fodder 132

The Ladies are Coming! 136

Taking the Pastor to Church 140

The Traveling Preaching Rodeo 142

No One Wants to Steal Jesus 142

Fun with Blow-Up Toys 145

Diva Demands 146

Bad Haircuts and Scary Beards: The Bible Scholar 147

The Missionary Position 149

Culture Shock 155

All Cows go to Heaven 156

I’m on to you Pastor! 158

Pastors Say Dumb Things Too 161

What am I supposed to do with my life? 162

Breathing Through My Nose 168

The Ascetic Life 172

Found and Lost 176

Dating the Pastor 179

Date Night/Everything Tight/Check Fright/Strawberry Cake Just Right 180

Lingerie Store 187

Pride Goeth Before Destruction 190

Happy Anniversary 191

Doomsday Prep 191

Utopia 192

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The first thing I ever wrote about being a Pastor’s wife had the word “@$$” in

it. The first thing I ever wrote about being a Pastor’s wife was then edited by my

husband, the Pastor, and the word “@$$” was changed to “bottom.”

The censoring had begun.

Now it’s my turn to tell it like it is. Like it really is.

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Once Upon a Support Group

Once upon a time – isn’t this supposed to be how these things start out? I was a

single gal during that magical time when every single gal thought she was Carrie

Bradshaw.

I guess since I’m talking about my relationship with the Pastor, I should really try

to be more biblical and say “in the beginning.”

In the beginning, I was thirty-three, divorced with a nine-year old son, Nate. As

part of my divorce package of cash and prizes, I got to take Nate to a support group for

kids who had gone through divorce.

Isn’t “support group” where we all meet our Prince Charming?

For the most part, I’d had an amicable divorce and my kid wasn’t screwed up. I

couldn’t say the same for everyone else going to the Thursday night support group.

That bunch was filled with some crazy, bitter divorced people.

But there was one guy amongst the crazies. He was bald and I like bald guys, I

happened to already be dating one at the time. I figured it couldn’t hurt to have a spare.

I thought he was pretty cute. He didn’t look too damaged. I tried to flirt with him, but he

wasn’t interested. I tried to talk with him. I asked him about his work but his lips were

sealed. He was mysterious and I was intrigued.

The support group eventually ended. Let’s face it; none of those people were

going to get any better. On the last night, I thought it was sad I wasn’t going to see that

cute, bald, mysterious guy anymore.

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But wait! After the last night of the support group, I did what all bored people do

when everything else is closed. I went to the open all night, big-box store to wander up

and down the aisles.

There he was, Mr. Bald, Cute and Mysterious, wandering the aisles too. It

appeared we had something in common! He asked me for my phone number. He

called.

He eventually admitted his dirty little secret: He was a Pastor. That’s right, me

and the Pastor. A man of God. A Bible scholar. A Ph.D. person. Someone who has

the power to cast out demons. Me? I read magazines with pretty pictures. Really. I like

them. Didn’t God create beauty, and wasn’t it she who put within me a deep

appreciation of a good makeover? He shopped at thrift stores, while I preferred my

clothes new and I really didn’t care too much for repeating outfits.

His divorce hadn’t been as friendly as mine. He didn’t believe he would ever get

married again. That’s the thing about these post-apocalyptic, post-divorce relationships.

Everyone has baggage. Mine was at least cute and matching, like a nice set you would

get to take to Europe. His was a mis-matched and falling apart, much like his thrift-store

wardrobe. He even had a couple of adopted kids that didn’t match, one black and one

white. He just wanted to be friends.

We were friends for six months, but then one night he kissed me.

That’s when things got confusing. I didn’t know what we were. We had what he

referred to as a “series of non-committed romantic encounters.” Were we dating? Most

of the time, I wasn’t sure, but I was a mom and a busy career woman and just didn’t

have time to worry about what we were doing. The Pastor refused to “DTR,” which I

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learned was slang he had learned from the college students he was teaching for

“defining the relationship.”

I knew this much – he never asked me to come to church with him. I live in the

Bible Belt and it is some sort of unwritten rule that once you know someone for more

than five minutes you become concerned about his or her soul being damned to hell for

all eternity and do the proper Christian thing and invite them to church with you.

Apparently, Pastor’s don’t like to show off the girls they are having “non-committed

romantic encounters” with. He did make it clear that the mega-church I was going to

was doing it all wrong.

You see, I used to frequent this shiny new Church of the Jumbotron. You may

know the type, one of these fastest-growing churches in the United States, with

sermons beamed via satellite around the world. An archetypal big-box store of a house

of God.

I loved that church. It felt good. I got dressed-up. Got a latte at the coffee bar

(don’t tell me you don’t like lattes too). Got right into the rock ‘n’ roll – I mean praise and

worship music. I’d always leave feeling better than I did when I arrived.

After I started dating the Pastor, he didn’t invite me to his inner-city church. I

guess when you are the one making out with the Pastor Saturday evening you are

considered too much of a distraction to his ministry to be in a pew Sunday morning.

Still, it didn’t seem right. After all, I invited him to my church. He went with me a

few times. He hated it. He said if felt too country-club-ish.

Six months after our first non-committed romantic encounter, he proposed.

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The Pastor got down on his knees (on a pillow, of course) and popped the

question in a very “Prince Charming” kind of way, presenting me with a big diamond ring

and proposing we spend the rest of our lives together. A proposal that included me

giving up my cute condo and even cuter dog to take on him and his two kids. You see,

marrying the Pastor meant moving into a parsonage with a strict no-dog policy. Clearly,

the managers of the property hadn’t met the Pastor’s kids (typical preacher’s kids!) or

they would have realized my dog was way less of a liability than these two darling girls.

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It’s been seven years and sometimes I stand back in amazement that we've

made it this far. Had I known then what I know now, that diamond should have been

even bigger. Much, much bigger.

That engagement day started with the Pastor coming to pick us up to make the

four hour drive to Medieval Times to eat dinner with our hands and watch a jousting

show. I was running late. That did not make for a good start to the day.

I had packed a picnic lunch of natural peanut butter on sprouted whole-grain

bread and carrot sticks. I’m crazy like that.

I now know I would have had a more favorable reaction from the Pastor and his

kids had I packed donuts covered in powdered sugar and arsenic.

You would have thought I was trying to poison people with healthy food.

The Pastor stopped along the way and bought nachos for everyone. The whole

reason I had packed a picnic was to avoid stopping and spending money on junk food. I

felt unappreciated.

My son, Nate, felt like the Pastor stole his thunder of getting to go to Medieval

Times by proposing to me. I had planned on taking Nate to Medieval Times as a

special reward for doing well in school. Then the Pastor asked if he could tag along and

bring his two kids. Having the extra people and not having his mom to himself was bad

enough, then he found out he was getting a Step-Dad. Poor kid. He just wanted his

special reward.

Everything about this experience tells you everything you could possibly want to

know about us. We are the same people now we were seven years ago, just older and

more used to each other's annoyances.

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I'm still tardy and I still buy the natural peanut butter and the sprouted bread. I still

don't buy regular peanut butter and white bread. I still don’t eat fast food. I want my

food to be slow – I like lots of foreplay before I eat.

The kids still complain. And act like I'm trying to poison them with healthy things.

And the Pastor still acts as the peacekeeper with Mexican food.

Maybe we'll have nachos for dinner tonight. Melted cheese - the bond that made

our family stick together.

We got married three weeks after we got engaged. I bought my wedding dress

on my lunch hour and planned the whole thing thanks to the greatest wedding planner

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ever: the Internet. I’d done this before; I had to act quickly to keep my mother from

getting involved.

I thought the quick courtship was a romantic whirlwind. Now I know better. He

was trying to trap me before I got wise about what was in store for me.

The Pastor had been such a commitment phobe after his horrendous divorce; it

was a struggle for him to even say the words “marriage” or “wedding.” Instead, he used

the language of “combining cell phone plans.” It wasn’t the romantic wording girls

dream of, but if you’ve ever signed up for a new cell phone plan, you can understand

the serious ramifications of what he was suggesting. In fact, our trip to the cell phone

store where we were joined together and became united into one in front of the gods of

the cell phone company, it was a bigger deal than our actual wedding ceremony.

Anyway, the Pastor and I make a great pair. Want to read what happens next?

Do I take everything he says and turn it into some sort of "Theology for Blondes?" (No, I

don’t.) Will I be able to get a manicure/pedicure in the jungle when the Pastor drags me

there so he can teach a Bible class? (No, I won’t.) One thing is for sure; I try to make

church a prettier place. Amen.

mom.

And don’t worry about my poodle. He went to live happily ever after – with my

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Role Models

Pastor’s wives lack for role models. Who is out there to represent us?

Mrs. Billy Graham – Ruth - was born to missionary parents. In addition to being

the perfect pastor’s wife she raised five kids oftentimes on her own while Rev. Billy was

doing the God stuff. Ruth managed to write more than a dozen books while I struggle to

write this sentence. None of the kids ended up severely damaged and all of them are in

some form of ministry.

The only person I can think of more Godly than Ruth Graham is Mother Theresa,

who only pulled one over on Mrs. Graham by marrying God himself. I will never be a

Ruth Graham.

Then there is the certain pastor’s wife at one of America’s largest mega-churches

shown on television. This Mrs. Pastor is called the “Co-Pastor” of her husband’s

church. Her qualifications are the same as mine: she married a pastor.

I don’t understand this modern-day notion of pastor’s wives, that when you marry

the Reverend, you somehow transform as magically as water turned into wine and

become a minister too. You deserve to be on the billboards and have a title. I hear

some churches are even requiring signed “Spousal Agreements” – that the spouse of a

Pastor is as contractually committed as the Pastor.

This is nonsensical; I know I’m not qualified.

I’m not signing anything. God didn’t call me.

Does your doctor’s wife automatically become a physician because she’s married

to one? Would you let her give you a colonoscopy?

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I’ll never be like the woman behind the televangelist on TV. I’d never be able to

tolerate a man who smiles that much.

Finally, we have the late, great Tammy Faye Bakker Messner. If I had to pick

one pastor’s wife who blazed the trail before me to be my role model, Tammy Faye

would be the winner. She had me at her love of inappropriate makeup, false eyelashes

and her ability to cry on cue. She also showed us there is life after ministry, or rather a

reality show, and she reached the highest pillar of success by becoming a gay icon.

Finally, someone I can idealize.

These three women, vastly different, had one thing in common. They all faced

people’s assumptions about what it means to be a pastor’s wife.

So do I. The worst would have to be that because you are married to the pastor,

you must love kids and will no doubt want to help out in children’s church and will do so

whether you want to or not. As punishment for my not wanting to help out with the kids,

I was forced to be on the Church Board and attend three-hour meetings.

Even though I live with a professional, I don’t know how to find most books in the

Bible without using the index. Also, I do not know how to play the organ and cannot

sing. If I could sing, I wouldn’t know the words without looking. I have no value

whatsoever to add to your worship service. I don’t desire to be the one to lead us in

prayer. However, if you need to be led to a restaurant or coffee shop – I’m your gal.

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One of the first fights the Pastor and I got into was about the Ten

Commandments. Every year the Pastor gives a pop quiz to his Bible students to see

how many of the big ten they know from memory.

He wanted to give me the test. I’m not sure why I fell for this. I think I may have

gotten eight so I’m sure I hit most of the important ones. I don’t let this make me feel

bad. The Pastor can’t remember all the names of the Kardashians. He also gave me a

quiz on the qualities of a Proverbs 31 woman, and I pretty much flunked that one too.

This is how it started. My son, Nate, and I were watching a television show.

“What did that guy mean when he said I’ll need 30 pieces of silver?” asked Nate.

“I have no idea,” I replied.

Judas Iscariot. And I was just a scary idiot in the Pastor’s mind.

“What?!?!?!?! Neither of you get the biblical reference to Judas?” said a

dismayed Pastor. He couldn’t believe that neither one of us realized they were talking

about the dude who betrayed Jesus. We were just trying to enjoy an episode of

“House, M.D.”

As a pastor’s wife, people expect you to not only know all this Bible stuff, but to

actually care about it like your husband does, and not just celebrity gossip and fashion.

I recently ran into one of my husband’s Bible students at a coffee shop. The kid

cornered me and preceded to blather on about Bible stuff… Biblical interpretation…

some Hollywood movie that perfectly represented the Kingdom of Heaven. My eyes

glazed over within the first minute. I didn’t care. I guess he was trying to suck up to the

Pastor through me. He would have been more successful if he had bought my coffee.

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Does anyone ever insist on talking to the Pastor about fashion trends or his

thoughts on cream versus powder blush? I think not.

Aside from what everyone else thinks, I know there is really only one person I

have to answer to, and that is my husband. He expects me to not be late for church but

I usually am. He expects me to have loaves and fishes ready to feed the multitudes at a

moment’s notice (and I do a pretty good job at it). He expects me to not do things that

will get him fired. He expects positive feedback on sermons, even when they are

terrible. He doesn’t expect me to co-pastor a single thing, because he knows my

strengths and weaknesses. Most of all, he expects me to own and wear the trashiest

lingerie.

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And I think Tammy Faye and I could wholeheartedly agree on that one, without

the need to burst into song or have tears streaming down our make-up caked faces.

Praise the Lord.

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The Woman Behind the Man

Here’s my idea of a parable. On my first official Sunday as Mrs. Pastor, the

music director prayed a special prayer for the special Pastor, but nobody said anything

about the Pastor's wife. His NEW wife.

The Pastor acted like he didn't know what he was going to preach about right

before he went up on stage. He whispered in my ear "should I preach from Matthew or

Mark"? I picked Matthew. Then he told me he was just kidding. Then I told him well

that's too bad because God just divinely spoke Matthew to me.

The Pastor's sermon was about Herod and the Magi, how Herod thought he was

a *star* but the Magi came to see the big J-man and it ticked Herod off.

I can relate. I think I am the *star* but the people at the church came to see the

Pastor. But I don’t get all huffy about it like Herod.

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Puppet Show

I am going to save the world. I just won’t get credit for it.

Consider this: Does anyone know Gandhi’s wife’s name? We know he was

married, but to whom? Of course it was easy for Gandhi to be peaceful because

Kasturba was pulling all the strings – taking care of his four children, making his

vegetarian curries, washing his little loincloths, taking his sandals to the shoe-repair

man and shaving his head for him.

As the kept woman to my Pastor husband, I can identify a bit with Kasturba. Put

away all your preconceived notions of what it means to be a kept woman, I will tell you

what it means. Simply put, I am kept as a personal slave extraordinaire. Since my

Pastor husband married me, he doesn’t know what a domestic chore is. He no longer

even knows what he likes to eat. He has to ask me, “Honey, what kind of cheese do I

like on my sandwich?” He may be a Bible-quoting preacher with the capacity to change

the masses, but behind the scenes, I’ve got a firm grip on the strings.

While my husband is preaching, I’m the one giving the “it’s time for lunch” signal.

I’m the one making sure his children are the most well behaved in the entire sanctuary

(guaranteeing they will grow up to be those screwed-up preacher’s kids we’ve all

known). And all those out of town preaching gigs? I’m the one who packs his suitcase

and makes sure his pants are in fact on the hanger underneath the suit coat. By the

way, this particular task may be the most important thing I do because no one, with the

exception of Gandhi, is going to change the world without pants on.

I’m the one he bounces those sermon ideas off of. I’m the one who suggests a

funny anecdote. I’m the one in the kitchen getting together snacks when the countless

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students, parishioners and missionaries come over. I’m the one who keeps him fed,

sexed and in clean clothes (especially pants) so he can focus on the God stuff. And

when he taught the class about Christian responsibility for the environment, I was the

one doing without the dishwasher and hanging clothes up to dry so he wouldn’t be a

hypocrite.

And what recognition do I get? I’m the one people come up to after church and

say, “Mrs. Pastor, I just loved what your husband had to say today! He’s so smart and

talented.” Or my personal favorite, the lady who came up to me glowing and said, “Your

husband makes me feel just like I feel when I watch [insert name of famous

televangelist here] on the television!” It was hard for me to keep a straight face knowing

how much the Pastor would cringe over being compared the gleaming, beaming

reverend of American’s most mega of churches (whose wife managed to get famous by

getting into an altercation with a flight attendant allegedly). Or people don’t say

anything to me at all after church, skipping right over me to shake the Pastor’s hand or

ask him some question like “Is the Devil real?” or “Does hell really exist?”

What people don’t recognize is that I know way more than he does, even if I

struggle with naming all ten of the commandments. Sure, he’s practically memorized

the Bible, but I’m the one who works in the soup kitchen of our inner-city church. I’m the

one who knows everyone’s names and the stories that will come in handy for him at

some point in the future during some possibly world-saving sermon.

Someday, maybe he will save the world. Or he’ll have taught the student or led

the parishioner or sent forth the missionary who changes the world. But me, I’ll never

be as impressed by Gandhi as I am by Mrs. Gandhi.

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I must admit thought that the kept wife role does take the moral pressure off me.

Technically, I’m not expected to do a thing besides sit pretty in the pew and do the

practical stuff to keep Reverend World Changer going. I don’t have to worry about the

actual world changing itself. No responsibility of lost souls for me! Phew!

This leaves me with the freedom to spend time shopping, walking on the

treadmill and finding ways to make myself look young and attractive. It’s not as though

I’m some super heroine whose magical powers came with a matching outfit. I have to

decide what to wear on my own. After all, if the world does get saved, I’ll want to look

nice for the occasion. No doubt, along with everything else, I’ll have orchestrated some

kind of made-for-TV moment. I’ll have the perfect hair, make-up, body and outfit. Look

for me, the lovely blur in the background and know that secretly I pulled all the strings,

and I did it while wearing high heels.

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Managing my Husband, the Toddler

When you are married to a Pastor, you have to get accustomed to having a

husband with a non-traditional (annoying) work schedule.

For instance, here’s a typical day when I was just being a typical mommy and

running errands.

While I was in the bank filling out my deposit slip, my darling angel ran around

the lobby, through the maze you have to go through to get to a teller window, and went

through all the suckers until he found a red one. He took a few licks off a sucker and

then started to search for a place to stick the sticky mess, with a helpful teller

shadowing him to make sure it ended up in the garbage.

After the bank, it was to home where I made us lunch and put him down for his

afternoon nap! Only this wasn't a toddler, I was managing my husband.

I am literally wolfing down an entire Godiva chocolate bar as I write this. Stressed

much? My husband has always been like a Tasmanian devil the way he tornadoes

through the house and leaves piles here and piles there. Throw in a non-traditional

workweek and it’s nearly more than I can handle.

There are books everywhere, and trust me they are books no one wants to read.

There are Bibles everywhere, but they are in different languages and not

understandable to the rest of the people in this house who can barely handle the

English language and just read magazines.

And he's so helpful. Maybe a little too helpful. It was nice to have his company

on a beautiful errand running day, but he feels the need to (when he hasn't lost all

patience and turned into an unruly toddler at the bank) give me instructions on how I

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can be much more efficient on everything I do. In fact, he was just standing over my

shoulder as I write this giving me helpful hints. He didn't want me to include the part on

orange juice I will tell you about in a minute when he leaves the room.

Maybe I need to stick a how-to-listen-to-your-wife book in one of these piles or

perhaps download one to his Kindle. Hmmmm.

Anyway, while I have spent the last seven years trying to find as many ways as I

can to make things take as long as possible (there's a lot of hours in the day to kill) he

thinks I should be faster and more efficient, so I'll have more time to do what, I'm not

sure.

Then there's the issue of the household budget. The Pastor has all these

elaborate schemes to fly here and there, from Eastern Europe to Bangkok, Thailand

and just about everywhere in between to preach and teach. While I appreciate the

lovely trips, I also like the idea of having luxurious items in my fridge, like I don't know,

orange juice. Yes, not only am I a very bad girl for my daily Starbucks, I'm also

completely decadent for having luxurious orange juice in the fridge. I will admit I like the

fancy kind where someone has taken care of getting rid of all the nasty pulp for me.

On the plus side, I never thought I'd be so happy to go to the gym. My safe place.

My “girls only” gym where I can go "work out" for hours. They have massage chairs.

Technically, I think you are supposed to sit in them after your work out, but I should get

credit for chasing the Pastor around.

I may seem a teeny bit cranky. I'm not; it's just that I didn't have my coffee, or

juice, this morning.

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Please, please, please just write your sermon already!!!

The Pastor has a sermon to write.

He's driving me crazy.

He is doing whatever he can to distract himself from actually writing the sermon.

Did I mention he's driving me crazy? He thinks that I should be immediately

interested in/drop everything/participate in/watch/come along with every little distraction

and become the portable audience for his fantastical performances.

He's driving me crazy.

Today, he bought a GPS.

He's driving me crazy.

He wanted me to care about the GPS.

He's driving me crazy.

I didn’t care about the GPS, even though it meant I got to go to Target.

I'm sure when I'm driving around someday, somewhere - and I use the GPS, I'll

care. Today, I just want him to write his sermon.

He's driving me crazy.

I can’t even cook anything in the crockpot. He keeps lifting the lid and messing

with whatever I’m trying to make. I keep explaining to him every time you lift the lid heat

escapes, and he SHOULDN’T TOUCH THE CROCKPOT because that’s the whole

point of a slow-cooker, but he isn’t listening to me.

Another thing he keeps doing is taking a nap/going to bed in order to not write his

sermon. He uses sleeping as an avoidance technique. Then he doesn't understand

why I'm not ready to go to bed at 6:30 p.m.

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Last night, he wore me down and we were asleep before nine. This was after he

(check out the audacity of this) took me to an early movie and to get a piece of $10

carrot cake because he didn't want to write his sermon. I guess sometimes this does

work out in my favor, like when he also uses sex as an avoidance technique.

But my desire to go to bed early last night may have had something to do with his

mini-seminar on how to properly burn a candle. I’ve always thought I pretty much had

a handle on how to burn a candle: light match, touch match to wick, end of instructions.

I can now tell you it’s much more complex than that.

He's driving me crazy.

Silly me, making my own plans, finding my own ways to keep busy while he is

supposed to be working on his sermon. Today, he started to tell me over my shoulder

the proper way to use a broom. I told him if he continued, he'd have to have my broom

surgically removed. He'd probably like that; if he had to go to the hospital that would just

be more time to not be working on his sermon. He's even trying to read this over my

shoulder instead of writing his sermon. (Sweetie, please stop reading this and go write

your sermon.)

Amen.

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Sermon Prep

After I’ve had to deal with his procrastination, I really like watching the Pastor get

his sermons ready. For one thing, he’s finally leaving me alone!

He has a book and a Bible. He flips through the book. He puts the book down.

He flips through the Bible. I don't think he can be actually looking at any of the words on

the pages of either of the books, because he is flipping too fast. Unless maybe he is

some sort of genius speed reader, which he might be because he does have a lot of

hidden talents (like bowling and sewing).

He’ll sit across the room with his Torah and some articles, working. He’ll exclaim

how interesting something is. After a few mutterings of "that is so interesting!!!" and "I

never realized that!!!!!" I will finally say what gives? He will reply with, “it’s too

complicated (translation: boring) to explain.”

Any who, then I say to him, is your sermon ready? And he says "Ehhh, I pretty

much know what I'm going to say.”

Once I even heard him do sermon prep in his sleep. He said “the bible says....

mumble... mumble.... mumble.” I have no idea the point he was trying to make. Maybe

he had something trapped inside that he had to get out, some sort of divine message

from God.

Sometimes he writes little notes on random pieces of paper and sticks them in

the Bible. So I worry about the sermon (like I have to stand up and give it!) because

stuff is going on in his head that I can't see and I wonder if his sermon is ready. Then

on Sunday, he stands up and gives the most amazing sermon. It's really cool. And then

I tell him, "Your sermon was good” and he says, "Ehhhhhhhh...I wasn't happy with it.”

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But he should be. All of that stuff he had said was too complicated to explain? He’d

figured out a way to explain it, and it made sense.

The Newlywed Game

The Pastor and I were invited to be “guest celebrities” at an event; yes, we were

actually part of the entertainment.

The Pastor and I were contestants on a rendition of "The Newlywed Game." The

Pastor got the incorrect answer to the following question: what is your wife's nickname

for you?

Uhhhhhh, let's see. Could it be THE PASTOR??????? Actually, I have two

nicknames for him. Professor Hot T. McHotstuff and THE PASTOR.

His guess was "My Lord." I think he just wanted to get a reaction from the crowd

with that one. He certainly got an eye-rolling reaction out of me.

I do call him that sometimes. But only on very special occasions.

We came in 4th place. Out of four couples.

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Skipping Church

It’s rare that I get out of church on a Sunday.

There are exceptions

One Sabbath, I got out of bed at 8 a.m. I snuck out of the room because I am

always very sweet and keep things dark and quiet for the sleepy Pastor.

On my way to Starbucks the serpentine belt (no I don't really know what that is)

on the van came loose again. It's happened before. The van has always rejected me as

a driver, and the feeling is mutual.

I had no power steering. I was almost to my Starbucks, and I figured I would just

hang at my coffee shop until my knight in shining armor came to my rescue.

Uh oh. I forgot my cell phone. In my effort to be so stealthy, I left it plugged in

right next to the bed and the sleepy Pastor. I knew my cell phone was on silent. I knew

the Pastor's cell phone was on silent. I knew the Pastor's alarm clock wasn’t going to go

off for two more hours. I also knew the Pastor wasn’t going to answer his phone even if

he saw it ring, because it was a strange number. Voice mail!! I was screwed. At least I

knew that and wasn't going to sit there continually calling him and get all frustrated like

some needy chick. I figured he would check his messages when he woke up for church

(WRONG!), and in the meantime I'd just hang out and read. Not a bad way to spend a

morning at all.

So I sat and I read and drank coffee and water and ate my breakfast. I stayed

there so long they gave me a second drink for free. OK, I whined until they gave me a

free drink.

The Pastor finally walked in the door. I had no concept of time, because in

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addition to not having my phone I never wear a watch. I got in the car and realized it

was 11:45!!!!! I had no idea it was that late. I had been unproductive at Starbucks for

nearly 4 hours! But the most shocking thing to me was that the Pastor went to church

and preached his sermon without me!

Wasn't he concerned when I wasn't home when he got up?

Nooooooooooooooooo!

Wasn't he concerned that he had a voice mail from a strange number and his

wife was missing?

Nooooooooooooooooo!

Wasn't he concerned that he couldn't reach me and he didn't have a text

message from me?

Nooooooooooooooooo!

Didn't anyone care that I wasn't at church?

Nooooooooooooooooo!

He said he figured I was just being Tardy Barbie and I was just running late. He

did start to get worried when he started preaching and I hadn't showed, but hey - when

you are the preacher it's not like you can just leave. Nope, not even if your wife is dead

on the side of the road. The Word of God must still be spoken.

He had called my phone, but of course it was plugged in and silent. But as I

explained to him, if I had been dead in a ditch I couldn't very well have answered my

phone, now could I???

He also said he thought maybe the Rapture had occurred and that's why I wasn't

at church because I was one of the good ones. That made it even more important for

30


him to go ahead and preach.

31


Perfection in the Parsonage

Usually the Pastor just thumps his Bible around and casts out demons, spreads

the fear of the Lord, etc. etc.

Usually.

But not all the time. Once, we had invited a couple to our home for dinner.

Why? One can only assume to convince them to remain childless forever.

I remember it like it was yesterday. Probably because I still have the post-

traumatic stress disorder associated with the event. One hour prior to our guests

arriving was the precise moment our dishwasher decided to not drain. I was putting the

final touches on our meal while the Pastor was dragging in a dirty-looking shop vac to

pump out the dishwasher. While he was doing this, his shorts caught on one of

our kitchen cabinet doors, and ripped the door off. Then when he was walking through

the house he knocked over a box fan, causing it to cease working. At that point I told

him to sit on the couch and to NOT TOUCH ANYTHING.

It’s hard enough just being a woman. Or a wife. Or a mother. Or a working-

wife/mother. But when you become a pastor’s wife? You are held to an even higher

standard. Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw

a stone at her." (John 8:7 NASB) Believe me, when you are a Pastor’s wife, there are

plenty of people gathered around the temple, expecting you to be perfect.

But if anyone throws a stone that hits my dining room furniture, they will be in for

it. Allow me to explain.

The dining room table is sacred.

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I’m sure at some point we’ve all heard the question: What famous person, alive

or dead, would you most like to have dinner with?

I’ve never given much thought to my answer, but this I know for sure: whomever

I settle on, we’d have to go to a restaurant. There is not a person alive or dead, or in

some other magical netherworld existence that I think deserves to eat on my precious

dining room table.

Maybe if God herself came over, I might be okay with her using it. After all, I’m

made in her image, and if she’s anything like me she’d probably give my dining room

table the respect it deserves.

The Holy Spirit? That would be fine, because spirits do not eat, drink or do

things that would scratch a table. If the Holy Spirit turns out to be like Casper the

Friendly Ghost, I might even be able to use his bed sheet as a tablecloth.

But Jesus?

Yes, he was a carpenter. I’m sure he would appreciate the fine handiwork that

went into my Malaysian dining room set. I personally think after the whole crucifixion

thing, maybe Jesus doesn’t like being around wood so much, but I hear he’s forgiving.

But he was also a homeless dude. Did your mother ever ask, “Were you raised

in a barn?” Born in a stable, Jesus kind of was. Maybe he treats everyone’s dining

room set like it’s the Last Supper. Have you seen the famous painting? They had a lot

of stuff on the table. It looks like things got out of control.

If Jesus came over, I would probably be okay for a little bit, until his boisterous

self started to get a little sloppy with the breadcrumbs and the wine. Then I’d finally

33


each a point where I’d have to say, “Okay Jesus, let’s take this outside to the patio

table.”

Let me give you a little backstory on the dining room table. It is the first piece of

furniture the Pastor and I purchased together. My husband, who not only preaches the

Gospel, but annoyingly, lives it too, agonized at the thought of buying something new,

nice and expensive. Do you have any idea how many poor people we could have fed

with the amount of money we spent on the furniture for our dining room?

This exemplifies a quandary presented to many a pastor, and especially a

pastor’s wife. Not only is one expected to feed the poor, but also be able to throw a

fabulous party in her stylish home on a moment’s notice while looking amazing. This is

not easily accomplished by purchasing your furniture at Goodwill, where we got our

couch.

The Pastor and I not only fundamentally disagree on the purchase of the dining

room table, but the functionality of it. The Pastor thinks people should, get this, actually

sit around and eat and do things at the table. Just as Jesus hung out with the poor and

the lonely and the outcast, just anyone should be able to plop down and eat at our

dining room table.

I think the table should exist solely as an item of beauty. I could give you a sad

story about how I grew up poor and lived in a house where we didn’t have anything nice

so it’s important to me to have nice things – I bet the televangelist would say it’s okay

for me to have a nice table. But here’s the truth: I just don’t want anyone to touch my

table. Everyone in this house should stay a minimum of three feet away from the dining

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oom table, and they should eat like normal people: with their food on a paper towel

while hovering over the kitchen sink.

Have you ever been over to our house? You know, one of those times when we

have people over to eat and talk and play games and have good clean Pastor and Mrs.

Pastor fun? There’s something you should know. The fun for me doesn’t start until

everyone has left and no one is touching or sliding anything across my table. I’m not

listening in on the conversation. I’m seething in a quiet rage because someone is not

using a coaster.

It got even worse recently when I went to someone’s house that coincidentally

had the same dining room set as us and they had foolishly used their furniture. I saw

with my own eyes, the horror of what my furniture would look like “broken in.” I will have

none of that.

Recently, we had what I like to refer to as “The Great Dining Room Table

Debate.” It’s a long story, but here’s the short version: someone used the table,

something happened, I cried and people nearly died. I know, it’s nearly as terrible as

Darfur.

The Pastor seems to think the answer lies in purchasing an ugly dining room

table cover that involves wood-like plastic and felt. Meanwhile, other people in the

house (okay, me) have even gone so far as to purchase a table for the kitchen – a used,

vintage metal table. People can do whatever they want to it and there’s no way they

could possible hurt it. Of course, no one wants to sit at the indestruc-table; what fun

would that be?

35


I realize this may make me sound insane, petty, petulant and selfish. I don’t

care. If that’s how you feel, you can gather with the others. They’re standing around

the kitchen sink. Jesus Christ himself may be there too for all I know. If you need me,

I’ll be at a restaurant with Elvis.

36


Feeding the Masses

Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes. Even though it’s not humanly possible,

pastor’s wives are expected to do the same.

We (the Pastor) invited some college students over who had been on mission

trips to have dinner with us and talk to our kiddos about their experiences. I wanted to

order pizza.

But noooooooooooooooo.

The Pastor, who wasn’t going to be the one cooking, didn't feel like pizza was

"dinner-ish" enough. He wanted to let everyone make his or her own taco salad.

Do I tell him what to preach? Why would he think he could tell me what to cook?

Do you know what “make your own taco salad” means? Eighty-two bowls of

individual salad toppings. I didn't actually count, so that may not be exactly right, but

that's what it seemed like.

Here's how it went down. I went to the grocery store. By the way, our food budget

doesn’t take into consideration these kinds of meals. Shopped for the food. Spent a lot

of money. Unloaded 82 sacks of groceries. I didn't actually count so that may not be

exactly right, but you know they can only put about two items in those plastic sacks.

Made a dessert – yes, that had to be homemade too, or it wouldn’t feel “dessert-ish”

enough. Got the other food ready.

You’d think with one husband, three kids and six missionaries (aren’t

missionaries supposed to be helpful?) I wouldn’t have to do all the dishes by

myself. Guess who ended up with those 82 bowls to clean, all by herself?

In the end, I only spent about nine hours on dinner. I did look cute though, in my

39


apron and heels. Sort of like a 1950's housewife wearing dark and stylish jeans and a

fitted t-shirt with an apron from Victoria’s Secret.

There are leftovers. If you want a salad, come on over. And if you don't want a

salad, we'll order pizza.

Twenty-four Jars of Peanut Butter

It took me a while to write this. Before I could get started, I had to find places to

put 24 jars of peanut butter.

never have.

If there is any truth I hold to be self evident, it is that I do not like peanut butter. I

Like so many other things, I blame my mother. She used to mix it in a bowl with

the jelly and it just grossed me out. I literally had to leave the house when she did it

because I would start gagging.

But then one day, I discovered a magical formulation of peanut butter. Whipped

peanut butter. I was hesitant, but I gave it a try. It was like peanut butter flavored

frosting. Oh how I wish it had made me gag.

A brief history. The geniuses at the peanut butter company figured out a way to

whip regular nasty peanut butter with air and magically change it into whipped goodness

and charge you more money for less peanut butter.

Blah blah blah, there was salmonella, blah blah blah, people died, Satan's

minions took peanut butter off the shelf for a while. All the peanut butter, including the

whipped peanut butter. This made me sad.

So now I hoard and hide the whipped peanut butter. That and some other

peanut butter I found that is full of cookie dough chunks. And the chocolate hazelnut

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spread. And the good cookies. And candy too.

I've seen the way people in this house eat. If you are willing to say, pick up

strange people's food trash off the ground and eat it, or lick a pole in the subway, then

you don't deserve the "good" peanut butter in your mouth.

The Pastor realized I hide and hoard the whipped peanut butter. My selfishness

offended him greatly.

His solution? He went to the store and bought 12 jars of peanut butter. It went

something like this: "Here (you selfish person) - now you can have a couple of jars, I

can have a couple and the kids can each have a couple. There's plenty for everyone."

OK, that still doesn't add up to 12 jars but I don't have a Ph.D. like him so I'm not

sure how the math of scarcity works.

Only, he bought the wrong kind of peanut butter.

He just bought regular peanut butter.

Why oh why???!!!!! Why oh why did I not just keep my pie hole shut? Why did I

not tell him thanks?

Or, “you guys can just eat all this peanut butter because I love you so much!”

Nope, I told him.

Ever since I've known the Pastor he has been the king of taking things back. Did

he return the peanut butter? Nope. He went to the store, found the whipped peanut

butter and bought 12 jars of it.

If you are keeping track, this now brings us to the grand total of 24 new jars of

peanut butter for our house. Not to mention the peanut butter (and hidden jars of

whipped peanut butter and chocolate hazelnut spread) we already had.

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Did I mention we have been trying to become a downwardly mobile family and

moved into a house half the size of our old house? When you minimize the size of your

house, you also - get this - minimize the amount of storage space you have for 24 jars

of peanut butter. I know! Crazy, huh? Who doesn't have room to store 24 jars of peanut

butter?

That's ok. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. With peanut butter,

you make cookies. Only when I told the Pastor I was going to make peanut butter

cookies, his response was "I don't like peanut butter cookies."

Aaaaarrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhh.

The Pastor did eventually offer to return some of the peanut butter; on the same

day I finally found places to stash it all. When I die, poor Nate won't find hidden money.

He'll find hidden whipped peanut butter. Sorry, kid.

And what's peanut butter without bread? Yep, the Pastor bought bread too.

Have I mentioned I don't eat bread?

42


It started last week.

Food for Thought

The Pastor, who was no doubt avoiding the work/lost souls he should have been

attending to, said to me, "would it be helpful to you if I made a list of what I like for you

to cook, so you'll know what to cook?"

Uhhhhhhhh, no. I know what to cook. I pretty much know how to cook a jillion,

billion million things. My mother made certain of that. And if for some reason I

sustained a sudden brain injury, I could still type into the computer whatever ingredients

I have (frozen waffles, refried beans, ice cream, frozen pizzas) and magically recipes

would appear.

I love it when the Pastor tries to "help" me.

I gently explained this to him. And the fact that when we don't eat at home, it's

not because I haven't a clue what to cook, but his crazy schedule. Or the fact that we

have not one, not two, but three teenagers in various places at all times. I always plan

to cook, but then the day of or hours before, my plans will be derailed. This is because

while I am planning to cook, everyone else is planning to do something else far more

interesting than being at home and eating dinner.

Our discussion continued with the Pastor telling me how he doesn't understand

why I don't just throw something in the crockpot in the mornings. If I did this, then he

and the kids would be just fine! They can take care of themselves! They could scoop

whatever out of the crockpot, and be perfectly delighted and clean up after themselves!

Liar.

I reminded the Pastor I did that very thing the previous week. When I got home,

44


he told me two of the three people who had eaten that evening did not like what I made

in the crockpot (Swiss Steak). The Pastor didn't understand why him telling me that two

out of three did not like something might hurt my feelings. Oh, and they left all their dirty

dishes in the sink.

At this point, the only thing I'm contemplating putting in the crockpot is

dismembered body parts. Forgive me Father, for I have sinned and thought evil

thoughts.

burgers.

But still, he rattled off a couple things he'd like for me to cook: chili and pizza

I got up the next morning. Looked up recipes. Made a list. Went to the store.

Spent $225.00 on groceries, went home, unloaded and put everything up. Of course

when you put everything up that is when you discover you have to clean out and

rearrange everything in your freezer, fridge, deep freezer and pantry. All this activity

consumed no less than three quarters of a day.

Now on to the Pizza Burgers. I'd never heard of PB but the Pastor's mom made

them and as he described them, they were nothing short of Manna from Heaven.

Thanks to the Internet, I had googled the recipe and gave it a whirl.

I realize I don't have a Ph.D., but I have cooked for more than 20 years with a

resume that includes the fact that no one in my household has ever starved to death.

Even though I don't eat the meat, I get the gist of things. I followed the recipe. One-

pound ground beef, hamburger buns, pizza sauce, cream of mushroom soup. Brown

meat, add pizza sauce and soup, and pour over hamburger buns. Top with cheese.

Bake til bubbly. Except for the fact I really thought it might be too runny when I was

45


adding the soup and sauce so I cut back on what it called for. Personally, I thought the

buns should probably be baked a little before adding everything on top, but being a

seasoned cook I thought I'll follow the recipe and I can tweak it next time I make it.

I served dinner and the Pastor offered up his "constructive criticism." Too runny.

He was just trying to help. You know, for the next time I make it.

Let's move on to the chili. I made chili in the crockpot and the best cornbread

ever - the Barefoot Contessa's recipe. The Pastor's response? There are no beans in

this chili. It's just meat soup.

And the Pastor - the one who hates to throw food away because there are

starving kids in Africa and why can't we just eat leftovers - each time since then when I

offered him the leftover chili, he didn't want any part of my "meat soup." Also, the

teenage boy doesn't want any of it, because now we are out of hot dogs and there is

nothing to eat it on.

Just to be clear - I invested all this time, effort and money into hot dogs I don't

eat, chili I don't eat, Pizza Burgers I don't eat, Swiss Steak I don't eat.

There's always a silver lining. I accidentally grabbed a pair of too tight jeans out

of the closet and put them on. A few hours later I realized hey! These jeans fit me now!

I'm so busy cooking all this food for everyone else to complain about, I totally forgot to

eat.

46


Behind Closed Doors

What Happens in the Parsonage, Stays in the Parsonage. It better, or you will be

in big trouble.

When you are a pastor’s wife, depending on your religion, you may need to drink

in the privacy of your basement. Nothing says “future drinking problem” quite like

having to drink alone in the musty underbelly of your house.

Once, when my husband was out of town, I went to Target to buy myself a

martini shaker. I happened to run into someone we knew, thank God, before said

martini shaker was in my cart. I left Target without the martini shaker, and ended up

using an insulated coffee mug to mix drinks. Helpful household hint: an insulated

coffee mug does work as a replacement martini shaker.

Pastor’s wives also need to have angry outbursts in the privacy of their own

home, as illustrated by the following conversation my husband and I had:

Passivist Pastor: What happened to the soap in our shower?

Renegade Pastor’s Wife: Uhhhhhhh, it broke???

Passivist Pastor: Did YOU break it?

Renegade Pastor’s Wife: Uhhhhhmmm, yesssssss.

Passivist Pastor: Did you break it in the shower when you were mad at me?

Renegade Pastor’s Wife: Uhhhhhh, yes. Sometimes I like to take things and

throw them and turn them into smaller things when I'm mad.

Passivist Pastor: You break things?

Renegade Pastor’s Wife: Uhhhhhhh, yes.

Passivist Pastor: What else have you broken?

47


Renegade Pastor’s Wife: Well, have you ever noticed how often I need a new

hairbrush?

Passivist Pastor: Hairbrushes? Wow.

48


anyone else.

See? Pastor’s wives are just like normal people: we can be crazy just like

Occasionally, a pastor’s wife will want to go off on someone in public, much like

some famous pastor’s wife allegedly did to a flight attendant. But as I will illustrate here

by my example, you must always be a lady and show some restraint.

I went through the Starbucks drive-thru. I ordered my usual, and because it was

a special day, ok it was just a Friday; I went for it and asked for a slice of lemon pound

cake. The magical voice on the speaker (it may have been the devil himself) told me, "I

just sold the last one to the car in front of you. Why don't you just ram that car with your

car, and then you can have it."

Hmmmmm. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

Voice on the intercom, do you really think I should do that? I already do whatever

you tell me to do. You say pull up to the window, and I pull up to the window. You say

that'll be $X.XX and I give you whatever you want. In exchange you give me a hot cup

of addiction.

I sat there in my car and wondered if this defense would hold up in court. I had to

do it. The devil on the Starbucks loudspeaker commanded me. I guess I thought about it

too long because the other car drove off. Not wanting to anger the devil, I pulled

forward. How am I supposed to help the poor and the homeless without $2 lemon

pound cake in my belly? At least my coffee was good.

49


Sermon of the Day

Another perk of being married to a Pastor is you don’t just get to hear sermons

on Sunday. He can preach to you. Anytime he wants.

Once the Pastor gave me a mini-sermon about how women are genetically pre-

disposed after millions of years to have fat bottoms. Apparently, women have an extra

fat pad under their epidermis.

Now, I’ve heard lots of sermons, and I’m just saying perhaps this wasn’t his best.

I (the one who works out for at least an hour every day and writes down every

morsel of food she eats) may have missed his point.

Is that the true curse of Eve? Not that women will feel pain in childbirth (because

I've been there/done that and there wasn't any pain, just really good drugs followed by

an instant weight loss) but that she will toil for hours on the treadmill to no avail?

I may be genetically predisposed, but I am wildly optimistic and dedicated,

perhaps even a bit psychotic. Even with millions of years working against me, all my

hard work may pay off.

And after millions of years, men – even pastors - still say the absolute dumbest

things. This is why God invented flowers. And jewelry.

Unfortunately, the hours I spend walking on the treadmill makes me easy to find

and an easy target for these pearls of wisdom.

I'm looking forward to the Pastor’s next sermonette. I'm such an optimistic

person, I'm hoping for something from Proverbs 31:10 (NLT): “Who can find a virtuous

and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies.”

Or even better, Song of Solomon 1:2 (NLT): “Kiss me and kiss me again, for your

50


love is sweeter than wine.” Isn’t that what all women want? Someone to kiss them over

and over again, even if they have an extra layer of fat. No one ever preaches on that,

and they should. I would respond with a hearty “Amen.”

Cookie Monster

I’m not quite like one of those hoarders you see on television, unless you are

talking about hiding the really good cookies from the kids who wouldn’t give them the

appreciation they deserve.

Once, when the Pastor and I were in the rainforest of Costa Rica, the Pastor

taught a class on Christian stewardship and the environment. Since I was there

without a whole lot else to do, I sat in on parts of the class and the Pastor made me

read one of the books for the class about how we can be better Christians by taking

care of the planet.

Like I don’t already have enough to do.

One of the things I learned about was the myth of scarcity. This is basically the

misconception that some people (me) think that there is not enough food to go around,

so they hoard the food when in actuality there is plenty of food. Then the hoarded food

rots and people without food starve.

cookies.

I’m guessing whoever came up with this concept never had my mom’s oatmeal

Most of the time I don't understand what the heck the Pastor is talking about, but

I completely understand the myth of scarcity. Every year on my birthday, I request that

Mom not bake me a cake but oatmeal cookies instead. She does, and one year buying

into the myth of scarcity, I acted not like a pastor’s wife, but instead did what any

51


*normal* person would do. I hid the cookies.

I rationed the cookies out to myself around my birthday. I probably only rationed

them because, let's face it, they weren't the only cookies I was eating and there may

have also been cake.

The oatmeal cookies that I was too full to eat were secretly sealed in the deep

freeze for me to enjoy all year long. Or, for me to rub in the face of my brothers in case

Mom would have died sometime during the year. (Yes, Mom is gone, but look! I still

have her cookies! So suck on that!!!!!)

I enjoyed a cookie here and there, up until the point I realized I still had plenty of

cookies left, my birthday was coming up again, my mom was still alive and she would

be making me more cookies. I no longer had to buy in to the myth of scarcity.

When I got my new cookies, I did share two, which was, I think, very big of me.

Have I learned anything from the Pastor? The rest of the cookies ended up in the

deep freeze, with the single serving slices of cherry pie Mom made me for Valentine's

Day.

52


Lube Jobs and Movies

It’s frightening to think of what goes on at the Parsonage when I’m not there.

Once after returning home from visiting a friend, I was confronted with a pile

consisting of lubricant and DVD’s. Left to his own devices, these are the remnants of

the Pastor's time home alone. I saw the pile and stopped dead in my tracks, shocked.

The lubricant? The Pastor spent the better part of the weekend (“better” is

probably not the right word) having to administer enemas to a plugged-up child. The

timing of my trip could not have been better planned.

Moving on, I was deeply troubled by the stack of movies next to the teeny, tiny

television we use when we want to watch a movie or something on the three television

stations we are able to get at the Parsonage.

On the top of the video stack? “On the Life and Ministry of the Messiah." I

pretended for a few minutes that must not be the actual video in the case. But, indeed, it

was.

un-see.

I hit "play" and saw it with my own two eyes. There are some things you cannot

The Bible Scholar de jour (and trust me, these Bible scholars are never attractive

enough for movies) was describing heaven as a wedding reception. Wedding

reception? There better be cake.

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Turn up the radio, or not

Sex toys, booze, affairs, drugs, credit card bills and Christian Music – what do

these things have in common? They are all things people hide. Yes, while some

people hide their heroin or the fact they are gay, I have to make sure to change the

radio station before I get out of the car.

I’ve realized a few things in the years I’ve been married to the Pastor. Two of the

more important things are that you don’t want to play against him in Bible Trivial Pursuit

and he thinks contemporary Christian music sucks.

I just assumed since he was a Bible guy, he would love the Christian music. Not

so much. His cell phone ringtone is a Queen song. To him, Eminem, Marilyn Manson

and gangsta rap are all more acceptable and desirable than, say, Michael W. Smith.

He thinks contemporary Christian music is about the dumbest thing ever. And

the old hymns? They are not much better. While he knows the words to all the

important hymns and can sing along blindly while on stage for a worship service, don’t

get him started about the incorrect theology in some of the lyrics. I don’t care. I still like

“Amazing Grace.”

It took me a while to figure these things out. Of course, when we started dating, I

was going to one of those shameful rock ‘n’ roll megachurches. Who wouldn’t love a

free show, free snacks, free childcare and some raucous tunes? Truth be known, I

could have cared less if they were singing about Jesus or fried chicken. It was pretty

and shiny and fun, and I just got to sit back and enjoy the show.

The Pastor, on the other hand, was preaching at the inner-city church that didn’t

even bother to have music. The parishioners were more interested in getting another

55


free meal and some groceries.

Once I married the Pastor, I had to stop going to the Jesus rock show, and

eventually the Pastor and I found another church, filled with homeless people, drug

addicts, trannies and one schizo lady who wore a burka made out of a comforter.

These are the kind of people who are too far-gone to negotiate the system and are truly

only alive by the amazing grace of God. I’ve never heard such a large group of not so

clean, toothless people joyfully singing hymns. They are so glad to have another

chance they willingly sing all four verses (no skipping!) of approximately ten hymns

every Sunday. What’s the hurry? After all, they won’t be going to brunch after Church;

they’ll be back on the streets.

The Pastor and I have had great influence on each other, but unbeknownst to

him I still listen to a Christian radio station in the car. I’ve found the kids learn fewer

colorful words and phrases riding with me than they do while ridin’ dirty with the Pastor.

And my iTunes account is top secret so he can’t see the Southern Gospel hymns I’ve

downloaded. I’ve had to learn these things and develop a fine balance between

compromise and concealment as we go along. As for that Bible Trivial Pursuit game, I

hid it in the trash a long time ago.

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I have seen a lot of ugly churches.

Dress Code

I don’t know who dictated that all churches should be decorated as though it is

1985 and mauve is all the rage, but it may have been one of The Golden Girls. Why

can’t we get the male choir directors to decorate some of these churches? Trust me,

they are always not so secretly gay.

While it’s ok for churches to be ugly, even worse, It is certainly not ok for the

Pastor’s wife to by ugly. It’s not ok for a Pastor’s wife to be a hussy either.

My precious husband sent his mother some recent pics of us. Her response?

“It’s nice see your wife not showing so much skin. After all, you are a Pastor!"

Here’s a note from my style file. A fashion tip. Since I've started running in

Church circles, I've noticed a rather unattractive trend I feel I must do something about.

I've been to several events where I have seen nice Christian women trying to

wear a revealing dress, in a non-revealing way. Like there will be a low cut neckline or a

keyhole cutout, and they'll fashion a swatch of fabric so an extra piece of skin won't be

revealed.

Please, please heed my advice. You cannot un-hoochify a dress. If you try on a

dress, and it shows a bit more than you want it to, then it is not the right dress for you.

Find another.

If you think the dress would be perfect if only this piece of flesh didn't show, and

perhaps you can somehow cover it up, it is not the right dress for you. Don't buy it.

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Dresses are not like people, there is no salvation. You cannot take a slutty dress

and redeem it. Please don't try. That's the end of my public service announcement.

Thank you very much.

When I flip through magazines, I dog-ear pages to add to my fashion wish list.

Now that I am not “working” I have been resisting the temptation to even buy or flip

through In Style or Vogue and tempt myself, even though I have been caught toting

these magazines to church instead of a Bible.

But those evil minions at White House Black Market sent me a catalog. WHBM

being one of about three people and/or organizations that have been given my

forwarding address. Yes, if you want to mail me shoes or catalogs, I will provide you

with the mailing address.

When the WHBM catalog arrived, I spotted a beautiful black dress and stuck the

pic on the fridge; you know where normal stay-at-home mommies post their children's

artwork (I figure whoever designed that black dress has got to be someone's kid).

Several days later, the Pastor was giving me D&P (distance & privacy) and took

the kids shopping at his favorite place, the thrift store. When the Pastor and the kiddos

were showing me their finds, a beautiful black and white sack from WHBM appeared!

He bought me the dress!

The Pastor had been unaware of the fact that had he used the coupon and spent

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$2 more, he could have gotten $25 off. So I returned the dress and bought it back with

a lovely pair of black wedges with a black and white flower (on clearance!), and WHBM

ended up giving me $5 back! Score!

Alas, I was the only preacher's wife at church anywhere on the planet sporting

the backless, black halter dress and wedges that made me very tall. Oh, and there was

also the body glitter.

The Pastor could complain, but what does he know about fashion? He just

wears those shirts with the clerical collar.

I got into trouble over the clerical collar shirt because he needed to wear one to

make a jailhouse visit, and I had thrown away the white plastic piece that is actually the

collar. How was I to know? I was trying to be Tidy-Up Barbie and the thing looked like a

piece of trash to me. So we had to go to the place where they sell such things and buy a

pack of replacement collars right away. I like to shop, but this place had nothing for me.

Its not like I've ever had these things lying around before. Normal husbands

would be upset over the sports page getting tossed before they've had a chance to read

it, or a wife misplacing a sleeve of golf balls or something. But clergy collars?

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These things just don't make sense to me. Kind of like when I first started dating

the Pastor and he lost his "Preaching Bible". He went on and on about this Bible and I

just envisioned a dog-eared, marked-up thing. When we finally found it, I could not

believe that the “Preaching Bible” was in fact pristine and without a mark in it and was

nothing more than an accessory, a prop.

Anyway, the Pastor said if he had to give away all of his clothes but one thing he

would keep the clerical collar shirt. Naturally, this decision for me would be akin to

"Sophie's Choice.” Although I suspect the Pastor would probably vote for me to keep

the "Bossy Beyond Belief" shirt he bought me.

A couple of years ago, I had “boudoir portraits” made for the Pastor. I wore some

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of his favorite things. You can’t blame a girl for doing this. I was still young enough with

a decent enough body and I wanted photographic proof of this. After I gave the Pastor

the pics as a present, he put them in a special place – in his drawer full of clerical

collars.

Numerous times a year I am tasked with having to figure out what to wear to a

church special occasion. Or even worse – the dreaded church holiday party.

One Christmas season, I ended up with pants from The Limited. Drew fit, black,

with just a sheen of gold. And a gold lace halter-top. Beautiful lace. Not metallic gold, a

muted gold. Very nice looking, so I thought.

I get home, pull the top out of the bag (mistake!) and say sweetie what do you

think of this? (Mistake!) ”Well, it would show your shoulders.”

What?

“What's wrong with my shoulders? Are they provocative?” I’ve never heard a guy

say, "She has really sexy shoulders." Or is there some underground shoulder fetish

thing I'm not aware of? Do I need to look this up on the Internet?

I may already have enough pictures of myself showing my shoulders that I could

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make a calendar for the shoulder fetish crowd.

I must admit I personally find my shoulders attractive because it's not an area of

my body that's prone to fatness. No shoulder fat!

But the Pastor (guess I should say The Pastor since I said The Limited) said with

the people we will be around, it's probably not wise for me to show my shoulders.

I told him that I figured it would be a nice change - everyone would probably be

relieved to finally see me in something that wasn't strapless.

Who wants to go to a party where you can't show your shoulders? Who wants to

socially hang around with people who are offended by shoulders?

I had not tried on the outfit. I hardly ever try anything on, which I'd like to think is

because I'm such an expert I can just eyeball it. (Well, you can always return it.) I

resigned myself that I would take it back and get something else I'd seen, a lavender

sweater wrap dress. OK, just a shade darker than lavender but not so dark that it's

purple. But I tried the halter-top outfit on today, and it looks quite lovely, even though my

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shoulders show. It's just a halter-top! I have on PANTS with it. It's not like I'm naked.

I went back to the mall and got the wrap dress, but I didn't return the halter-top

outfit. To continue in my rebellious way, I then went to the makeup store and bought

another thing the Pastor’s wife can never have too much of - trashy eye makeup. I'm not

sure why it's ok for me to trick up my eyes, but my naked shoulders are a potentially bad

thing. But whatever.

Worse than the holiday party outfit, is the swimsuit. As if shopping for swimsuits

weren’t difficult enough! More about this in a minute.

When I was growing up, my parents wanted me to be a good girl. I guess they

intended to accomplish this by sending me to church anytime the doors were open.

A lot of young people might have protested, but not me. There were boys there.

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There were Sunday School classes and countless youth group events that combined

unsupervised teenagers, raging hormones and the many closets, rooms and basement

of our church building.

During these years, every single boy I ever got into trouble with was a nice

church boy. One Sunday I may have even snuck out of church service during the

sermon with a boy (OK, he may be been the preacher’s son) for donuts and kissing.

What could my parents do? Forbid me to go to church? If I was going to kiss all

the boys, I did at least get out of ever having to go to church camp. I am grateful for

this, because the notion of shared showers has always terrified me.

Have you sent a daughter to church camp? If this is in your future, get ready.

You will need to try to find a burka-style swimsuit as they will be unable to wear their

sinful tankinis, or God forbid, an actual bikini, on their innocent 90-pound body.

The swimsuits that fascinate me the most are the modesty swimwear garments.

These swimsuits show less skin than I routinely show when I am fully clothed, including

church holiday parties.

I cannot image that one-piece swimsuits are truly the thing that prevents sexual

sin or promiscuity. I seemed to be able to get into trouble with nice church boys no

matter what I was wearing. I don’t blame clothing. I always blame Eve.

I have read 1 Corinthians 6:19. I know my body is a temple; I want to show it off.

If I happen to be around water, I should be able to wear a bikini and someone should

even part the water because this is an achievement. And I shouldn’t have to cover up

my belly button ring! I’m proud that I was smart enough to get a temporary piercing

instead of a permanent tattoo (I haven’t ruled out that someday I might want to be a

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Jew).

As I went from teenager to adulthood, I never steered clear of bikinis. I did finally

learn how to avoid nice church boys for a few years.

Then I met the Pastor.

When I met him, I was getting ready to attend a single adults retreat with a

church I had been going to for their singles group. I had even gone out and bought the

required one-piece swimsuit - something I didn’t own - since bikinis were forbidden on

the retreat.

The night before I was supposed to leave, I went to hang out with the ultimate

nice church guy – the Pastor.

That was the night he first kissed me.

All of a sudden, I had a choice to make. I could go and pretend to have fun

wearing an uncomfortable one-piece, or I could stay at home and make out with the

Pastor.

I still have that one-piece swimsuit. It’s never been worn.

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Pop (up) Art

As if being a fabulous Pastor’s wife wasn’t enough, for a while I was an unselfish

volunteer as a docent at the local art museum. If not for the art museum, I might have

had to do Christian things like ladies’ Bible study. Eek!

For a while, none of the people I had socialized with at the art museum had met

my husband. I wonder what, over all those months, they might have pictured in their

minds when they imagined my doctor/pastor/professor husband who has taken me on

such lovely trips and bought me large Coach purses and big diamond rings. The other

docents only knew we had been on fantastic trips. What they didn’t know is sure, I had

been to Europe a couple of times, but it had involved sleeping on a train or in a

communal hostel room with half a dozen men I didn’t know. As for the Coach purses, I

had picked them out and the Pastor’s involvement had been paying for them.

When my art museum friends finally got to see the Pastor, what a treat it was for

them. He was in rare form. Here is what they experienced:

looking.

Me, in my cute little I’m-an-art-museum-docent outfit and I’m so stylish and art-y

The Pastor was wearing a hoodie he found on the street. Yes, did he find it on

the street, it was a woman’s hoodie, brown with pink trim, and it advertised a liquor

store. He completed his ensemble with a t-shirt acquired at the Salvation Army and

jeans from a thrift store. The Pastor looked like a homeless person.

What a couple we must have looked like seated at the art museum café.

The Pastor was slightly unhappy with his $9 sandwich, eaten in the café with a

nice view of a downtown street and plenty of homeless people. What would Jesus do?

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Would Jesus eat a $9 sandwich? The Pastor had to justify the $9 sandwich somehow,

so he ate all the “free” butter and rolls he could. He also had the waitress bring him

extra peppers and keep refilling his water glass.

Of course, we were seated within viewing distance of the curator and an

important museum donor. They didn’t know that before lunch the Pastor had been

fascinated with a pop-up greeting card he saw in the museum gift shop (he’s easily

entertained; obviously he’s easy to dress too).

The Pastor’s eagerness to pop-up from the table to go back and play with the

card – well, to the curator and donor, it must have looked like my scruffy date was just

sticking me with the check. He did stick me with the check, but I did have his money to

pay. Just like how I get my Coach bags and cute clothes.

lunch.

Perhaps they thought I had brought a homeless man off the street to feed him

Imagine if the Pastor had an entire pop-up book. Better yet, a pop-up Bible! I

wonder if Walter Brueggemann has written anything that’s been immortalized in pop-

up? He’d be entertained for hours. Too bad the Pastor doesn’t ever want me to buy

anything for him.

Maybe they have one at a thrift store.

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Happy Sabbath?

Slayed by the Sunday Supper

After a mere 5 hours in the kitchen, I'm finally able to sit down. Typical.

This is how my nails looked at the beginning of the day:

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A cake, made-from-scratch, is the result of my watching the Food Network and

Miss Paula Deen.

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I also made my family roast beast, carrots and mashed potatoes. To say that I

used every dish in the kitchen is not an exaggeration.

The good news? I don’t have to cook for the rest of the week.

The bad news? I destroyed my manicure.

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Although I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing overalls and I’ll never spend time out

in the hot sun without the prospect of lounging by a pool, I can still relate to Mr. Farmer:

that dutiful provider who toils thanklessly so the kids never have to go without that no-

sugar whole-grain cereal they detest.

Day in and out, I too plow the fields. Okay, the air-conditioned, florescent big box

aisles, reaping a harvest. It’s all I can do to make it through the seemingly endless

acres of the grocery store. I have to wear my iPod so I don’t hear, or have to interact

with, all the brainless people who shop there. Sometimes I wonder, did a zombie

apocalypse happen and this is what zombies are really like? Idiots who want to ask me

where cherry pie filling is.

And what do I get in return?

Absolutely nothing. No one appreciates me.

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Case in point: We sit down at our lovely dining room table, we hold hands

around my $100-a-place-setting Noritake china, and the Pastor leads us in prayer:

“Dearlilbabyjeezus, thank you for child number one. Thank you for child number two

and child number three. Thank you for this food. Amen.”

Whaaat? Seriously?

I know! A Pastor! You’d think he’d have a better dinner prayer than that.

Somewhere in heaven at that very moment, Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God the

Father, with his head in his hands thinking, “Dude! You did not just say that!” But that’s

not the point here.

The point is that the Amen came a bit too soon.

Oh Pastor, did you forget something? Someone? Do you think Jesus sliced

those tomatoes for you? I may not have planted them and watered them and cared for

them, but I’m the one who made sure they ended up on your cute little plate, which by

the way, cannot go into the dishwasher. Without me, the work of Mr. Farmer would

have been in vain and children numbers one through three would be starving. But all I

get is a hollow Amen.

Or sometimes the scenario goes more like this: I spend all afternoon in my very

cute Victoria’s Secret apron carefully putting together some dish I found in a cookbook

from some show on the Food Network that I will never get to watch because, after all, I

am a nice pastor’s wife and we, the family who sits around the dining room table each

night, aren’t supposed to have cable television. We once again hold hands, and this

time the Pastor launches into one of his 20-minute prayers, where we ask God to watch

over every missionary we know and thank God for everything, except (once again) me.

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But I am not even listening. I am seething. Pasta waits for no one, and the only

thing running through my mind is, “Please hurry up and finish this blasted prayer before

the food I so carefully timed cools down, causing one of these ungrateful children to

whine, “my food is cooooooold.” Did I mention the plates cannot go in the microwave

either?

And you know what is running through Jesus’s head by about minute 15? “Blah,

blah, blah, I get it, you have plenty, but there’s a whole mess of people on the other side

of the world I’ve got to deal with. So if you’d just shut up and eat, we can all get on with

it.”

And even on those rare occasions when the lowly cook does make it into the

prayer, at some point someone is bound to say something less than complimentary

about the food itself.

One night, child number two said she didn’t like what was on the table, and I

(acting somewhat like a child myself) simply picked up my plate, walked into the other

room and ate alone. In solidarity with Mr. Farmer, who sits alone a lot too, thanklessly,

just his tractor and his crops.

And I bet he probably doesn’t get the Food Channel, or the Tractor Channel (if

there is such a thing) either.

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Holidays? Or Holy Days?

I remember one Valentine’s Day getting terribly excited that the Pastor had

gotten me an appropriate present. It was a wonderful feeling. First the rush of getting a

present, followed by the satisfaction of knowing that my husband had actually listened

and comprehended words coming from my mouth. No candy, flowers or card, but this is

progress for a man who would rather celebrate holy days than holidays. His words, not

mine, from a sermon he preached. The year he preached a Valentine's Day sermon

entitled "Can't buy me love," I knew I was in trouble.

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Hi-Ho! The Dairy-O! The Pastor’s Wife Stands Alone

Couples fight over the dumbest things.

He started it.

I was getting ready for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is one meal, but a multi-day

process. And when you are a pastor’s wife? Not only do you have to deal with family,

you also have to deal with parishioners and strays.

He may have stated the obvious, that I was going to be a control freak. That I

would want everyone to stay out of my way, show up at the appointed time and bestow

accolades upon me for the meal.

kitchen.

Bottom line: we got into a fight about whether or not I would allow helpers in the

Why did I fall for this? Why didn't I just say sure, anyone can help! First I’ll have

to stop and draw a map to the dishwasher. But it'll be fun! It will be a magical "mommy

and me" moment. We'll put on matching aprons, sing songs and mash taters!

I chose a different approach.

I didn’t use my inside voice to communicate. If I wanted to be a control freak and

do Thanksgiving my way, that was my prerogative. I wasn’t even sure I could make

piecrust; I didn’t need witnesses to my failure.

My husband suggested Thanksgiving would be more fun and meaningful if

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everyone chipped in, and we just ordered pizza! How on earth you could use nine

people to order pizza - even if you added extra cheese - was beyond me. I’ve ordered

pizza enough that they know me on a first name basis. They have my order saved.

After I spent two days in the kitchen, alone, I saw how pointless our argument

was. Like people weren't going to see me working in the kitchen and run. Every once in

a while, I’d shout out "hellllooooo," my voice echoing through the ghost town of our

house as tumbleweeds blew by.

The dishwasher is mere inches from the counter yet no one seems to be able to

locate it. What made my husband believe anyone could load it once they found it?

Here's how I was "helped". Someone swept up all the rice I spilled when I was

simultaneously cooking that night’s dinner as I made pies. Someone put a new liner in

the overflowing trashcan so I didn't turn around with a handful of trash and nowhere to

throw it. Wait! That was me. I did all those things, and I didn’t even get lunch.

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The big day came… and went. Easy enough. I mashed potatoes, cooked turkey

and ham, made gravy and baked rolls. At least half the piecrust wasn’t a failure. It was

nice to have all that quiet time. I also designed a map to the dishwasher and worked on

my acceptance speech for when my family gives me all those accolades. The

dishwasher and I are still waiting.

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attention!

Be Like Jesus

I tend to tune out when the Pastor gets all Bible-ish, but not today. I paid

Today, the Pastor (who has no doubt not bought me anything) argued that

December 25 is not the day to give me a Christmas present. First of all, he said, there's

no real proof that was Jesus' birthday. OK, but who cares? If anything, he said, it would

be more appropriate to give me something on January 6, because that would

approximate the date the Magi came to visit the baby.

Now I'm beginning to wonder if he's making this stuff up. There's no proof that

Jesus was born on December 25, but we can figure out the Magi would have come 12

days later? Huh? This is quite possibly the worst abuse of his God knowledge I've seen.

While I'm not convinced, nor do I actually care enough about the specifics to

research it myself, I began to wonder: what would Jesus do? Would Jesus have

wanted a gift on his birthday? There's already quite a bit of fuss on that day, and let's

face it, if he's having to sleep in a stable, are there really any good stores open?

Anything besides the open-all-the-time drugstores? And if someone were going to

spend the money, would you want just whatever tacky thing they decided to get you at

the last minute?

Waiting until January 6 would have been a much better day for Jesus to receive

a gift because, as everyone knows, babies are prettier at day 12 than day one. I've had

a baby. And on day one, he was mostly just red-faced and ticked that he'd had to

surface. A couple of weeks in, and the pictures of the whole gift exchange would be

much better. This is probably why when you see a Nativity Scene everyone looks so

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nice.

While there is no way the Pastor could have convinced me Biblically or

scientifically, he could convince me retail-ally. I'm not a scholar, but I know shopping.

My only question was, if I wait until January 6, would I get a much better gift than what I

would have received on December 25? OK, I'll take what's behind door number two.

Pastor, if you are reading this, I'm officially giving you notice you may give me

my (much more spectacular) Christmas present on January 6. Of course, you'll probably

have to take me to dinner that night too. I've already put it on my calendar. And I can't

wait to see what kind of argument he comes up with to delay Valentine's Day.

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Escape to Egypt

One “Christmas,” my special shopping day had to be rescheduled because the

Pastor had double-booked himself on January 6. I’m sure Jesus wouldn't have

tolerated this from the Magi, but I really want presents so I'm more flexible.

Instead of gold, frankincense and myrrh I got dinner at a fancy restaurant, a

Coach bag and Miss Dior Cherie perfume. Unlike the baby Jesus, I wasn't surprised. I

picked it all out, and he paid.

The Pastor's sermon on the Magi (yes, I've heard it a time or two - I could

probably preach it myself) goes something like this: "The wrong people from the wrong

place had the wrong information but they came to do the right thing, worship."

Even though Jesus didn't have to ask anyone to hand over his Discover card, the

Pastor got the gist of it.

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ever.

Sew In Love

The Pastor has many spiritual gifts. One would be that he is the worst gift giver,

Along those lines, when purchasing flowers, he gets the flowers so close to death

I'm surprised the store is still selling them. Either that, or he has a secret flower

dumpster.

These flowers end up having the opposite affect on me. Instead of being happy

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he bought me flowers, it makes me seethe with rage. Is this what he wants? Are these

flowers a secret metaphor for our relationship? Then I have to keep the dying flowers

around for days to continue to rot. And I never feel like I can say “Honey, it's sweet that

you buy me flowers, but please please please buy me some that are still alive and smell

like flowers and not decay.”

Sigh. At least he tries. Right?

One year for our anniversary, the Pastor gave me a ring. A yellow gold ring (ick)

featuring a belt buckle (ick). The accompanying note read, "thanks for buckling up and

joining our lives."

Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick. Ick.

Nothing says "romance" quite like a belt buckle and tolerance.

This past Christmas I didn't get a present. Not even a sketchy bouquet. I realized

he had been swamped, so I cut him some slack (my gift to him). Typically, we've not

done Christmas on Christmas. He has given me gifts in January when the Wise Men

came to visit the baby Jesus, and coincidentally when everything is on sale and our

property taxes have been paid.

This year Christmas came and went. Then the Magi’s came and went and I still

didn't get squat. I was beginning to feel like he was going to try to pull a fast one on me

and do the dreaded combo Christmas/Valentine gift.

I wasn't going to let that happen so I told him flat out what I wanted. I wanted

specific makeup brushes. In my mind (which was formed watching Disney princess

movies) they would be carried in by cartoon birds and be presented to me arranged like

a bouquet tied with ribbon, but at this point I'd take whatever I could get.

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Deep in my heart I knew it would be too much for him to handle, after all he has a

Ph.D. Also I'm fairly certain he's never seen a Disney princess movie. So I decided to

cut him some slack and made a very specific list, complete with instructions, turn-by-

turn directions, how many steps from the entrance of the store to the makeup counter,

salesperson names, brush names and numbers, and alternately a website where they

could be purchased with free shipping. It was the most effort I could make to get my

present without actually buying it myself.

Fast forward to my husband becoming completely obsessed with the idea of us

(ME) needing a sewing machine. Having lost our dear sweet lady who did mending for

us, we were left with a hole in our lives that couldn't be darned.

Much like a bouquet of dead flowers, it seemed to disappoint the Pastor greatly

that I couldn't and had no desire whatsoever to sew. I let this make me feel bad for

about two seconds until I remembered the Pastor doesn't like sports, so if he can be a

guy who doesn't like sports I can be a girl who doesn't want a sewing machine. Besides,

in my Universe, things are sewed by talking cartoon animals and fairy godmothers.

Imagine my surprise when he brought home a sewing machine and told me

“Merry Christmas.”

I thought I might lose it. I reminded him yet again that I DIDN'T. WANT. A.

SEWING. MACHINE. I briefly toyed with the idea of maybe keeping the sewing

machine, and exactly WHAT I COULD SEW TOGETHER ON IT.

Finally, he opened the sewing machine box. Turns out he had bought the sewing

machine, taken it out of the box, and wisely replaced the contents with the makeup

brushes I had asked for.

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I'm pretty sure I saw a couple of cartoon birds fly out of that box too.

In the end, the Pastor taught himself to sew, and he's quite the little seamster.

He’s been mending and hemming and he even made me a skirt. As for me, while he's

sewing, I'm painting my face.

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Christ-mess

I spent Christmas day at my parent's house, where they stuck in a DVD of

converted 8mm films of my childhood Christmases.

It explained so much.

I was mesmerized by the movies. I'm pretty sure there wasn't a single shot of me

in my early years where I actually looked happy. Thank God I wasn't, smiling would

have just led to wrinkles. Also, it never really looked like I got the hang of crawling. No

wonder I had to take College Algebra so many times.

And the parenting? My mom gave suckers to babies! Let little kids make their

own chocolate milk! Took baby me camping and practically left me on a rock while

dunking my brother's feet in freezing water. And the list goes on and on to include other

things my own mother would have personally turned me into Child Welfare for had I

even thought about trying with her precious grandson. And this one scene? She claims

she was "rocking" me, but I don't know - it could have been shaken baby syndrome.

The Pastor was so transfixed by the movies it put him into a deep trance. Wait a

minute, he fell asleep. All of this insight, right there in front of him, and he took a siesta.

Is it any wonder he won't be able to figure out what to give me on January 6?

As if the movies weren't depressing enough, then there are all the Christmas

cards and holiday letters.

Somewhere around mid-December when the seasonal affective disorder is in full

bloom, I get that final card/letter, the one that tips the scales and causes me to collapse

in a puddle of tears. Why oh why, I lament, why don't I have a darling family with

matching shirts? I think about it. I fool around with it. Look on-line at different cards.

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Draft up a letter. Try to put the perfect spin on my family and our events over the past

year. It’s complex though. With divorce and remarriage, no one is here at the same

time. It’s hard to include amusing anecdotes and stories about children that really do

want to turn you into DHS. Then throw in the Pastor's insane work schedule, and I begin

to wonder if people will think its weird for me to send out a card with only my picture on

it and no words. After all, I am amazingly wrinkle-free after years of not smiling. Then I

even begin to feel bad for not having at least a dog, cat or hamster to take a picture of

and stick on a card. I lose the will to send cards; I lose the will to blog and end up in

front of the TV where I end up watching the Duggar family with all the kids, which only

makes me feel even more inadequate. To you it may be a simple holiday greeting, to

me; it’s a downward spiral.

I'm glad the letters have finally stopped and I no longer have to dread having an

anxiety attack when the mail drops through the slot.

I have ripped down the tree, but remember Santa doesn't come to see me until

January 6 when the wise men went to see baby Jesus. My wise guy thinks with all this

extra time he'll have a clue. He doesn't. We went to the mall together on December 26,

and like the home movies he wasn't paying attention. Let me help. Pastor, that pink

Coach bag you picked up? Not what I want. In my doing research of the 12 days of

Christmas to try to relate to the Pastor and help him out, I learned that the 12 days of

Christmas are misunderstood and complex. Way to make it more complicated Pastor.

Let's keep it simple, much like that baby born so long ago, wrapped in swaddling

clothes, with a sucker in her mouth.

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to buy.

Every year it’s the same.

Christ-mess Card

Some people fear getting trampled to death while Black Friday shopping.

Others stress about not finding whatever version of Elmo it is you are supposed

But my greatest holiday fear?

The Christmas card.

I’m not talking about the boxes of Christmas cards you can go to any store and

buy. That’s easy. You just decide if you want to be religious – Mary/Joseph/baby Jesus

on front, or cute – a dog wearing reindeer antlers, or nothing with a generic “Happy

Holidays.”

I’m talking about the elusive photo Christmas card.

You see, before you have the photo Christmas card, you have to have the photo.

The perfect family Christmas photo.

I figure I must be missing something. People must have better lives, better

children, or better abilities at Photoshop.

I’ve been trying to get “the perfect Christmas card” for 6 years now.

When you live in the reality that is divorce and remarriage with kids, first you

have to find a time when all of you are together.

This magical thing happened, when the planets aligned – not only were we all

together, we were all in Church clothes. Of course, none of us matched in the slightest. I

was wearing plaid. The teenage boy was sporting a retro cardigan. One girl was

wearing a cherry print, and the other, floral. The Pastor was in his clerical collar. I

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figured at best our photo would come off as a nice minister who had stopped to help out

a rag-tag bunch.

Thankfully, I had not allowed the youngest girl to wear what she wanted to wear

that morning. Her idea of proper church attire? Leather shorts. Leg warmers. Long,

feather earrings. And I quote her: “I can rock this look.” No, dear. I’m pretty sure you can

only “rock that look” if you are streetwalking. If you are a 12-year-old girl, you cannot

rock that look. At least not under my watch!

I had the realization that we were not only altogether, but halfway decently

dressed, driving down the road. I told the Pastor we had to act fast. What happened

next I’m sure was like having to race to get on the last helicopter out of Saigon. The

Pastor pulled into a parking lot, screeched to a halt and we all ran to take pictures

outside. It was even a decent day weather-wise. With this series of events happening,

we were either going to get the perfect family picture or the world was about to end. I

checked my phone to see if this was one of those dates predicted for the rapture.

The Pastor hurriedly set up his tripod – yes he carries it in his backpack all the

time. We turned the timer on and just took shot after shot with the theory being we might

get one decent picture.

Sure the 12 year old had some moments when she completely forgot how to

smile and was making weird looking faces. And the 14 year old panicked at how to

stand in front of the camera. And between each exposure, the Pastor and I were yelling

at them, telling them to move here and there, screaming as though they might not make

it aboard the helicopter and out of the war-torn country.

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It doesn’t end with the picture. Once you get that, you have to attempt to order

the cards. Here’s how that works. You go to various websites and look at design, after

design, after design. There are an infinite number of possibilities. Cards range in price

from roughly $0.01 - $15.00 per card. Inevitably, the ones you will like will be the $15.00

per card card. Once you find a card in your price range, it will need a vertical picture,

and you will only have a good horizontal one. Or it is a card that will hold 4 pictures, and

you need five.

Once you have managed to find the 1 card out of 27,382 that has the layout and

number of pictures you need, and doesn’t say Happy Hanukah (for a moment you will

contemplate converting to Judaism, for it will make ordering cards easier) you will begin

the process of dropping your pictures into the layout.

First you kiss your husband goodnight and grab an energy drink because you are

in for an all-nighter. After you somehow manage to get the right pictures in the right

slots you have to put a message or your names in a text box. Whatever you want to

say, or however many names you have, it will be too many letters. You will all of a

sudden give one kid a nickname they’ve never had, because it will fit on the card. Don’t

even think about trying to change the font, you will want to get at least 30 minutes of

sleep.

I’m not bragging here. I’ve got a college degree. I went to vo-tech for a year. I’ve

given birth to a child. I’ve held professional jobs, including one that required me to

manage and be responsible for a number of employees. Why is it so hard to order a

Merry freakin’ Christmas card?

You’ve managed to order the cards. Once they come in, you will be faced with

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the arduous task of addressing the envelopes. Your husband will ask you approximately

every 30 minutes if “you’ve gotten the Christmas cards done.” You know, in all your

spare time.

You finally finish. Then comes the stamping, the return address labels and the

trip to the post office. Then over the next series of weeks, you will receive at least one

returned in the mail every day because as it turns out you don’t actually know where

anyone lives.

But I did it. You’d think for this, and for making the delicious Thanksgiving meal

(all by myself) and wrapping the gifts and the shopping I’d deserve something extra

special in my stocking this year. I know I'm not going to get any presents, so I’ll just

settle for never, ever having to see the 12 year old wear leather booty shorts and leg

warmers. Thanks, Santa.

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Presents from the Pastor

After many arguments about special days, the Pastor and I came up with a

system. He said that if I made sure something was on his calendar, which he uses

more than his Bible, then he’d take care of it.

Not so much.

The Pastor did buy me a lovely ring and bracelet. Combination

Easter/Valentine/Christmas/Mother's Day/Birthday present once.

It’s a funny story.

I stick pictures on the fridge all the time. I had stuck a picture on the fridge of a

diamond circle NECKLACE. A NECKLACE, with a circle charm on it. A circle

NECKLACE. The picture showed the word "NECKLACE" in a large font size, right in the

middle of the NECKLACE.

The Pastor gets me a ring and a bracelet and then makes some sort of comment

that he had "gotten me the bracelet I wanted."

Huh? Then he said, "you know, that one you had the picture of on the

fridge." Uhhhh, that was a NECKLACE.

No it wasn't.

Yes it was.

Nuh-uh.

Uh-huh.

Do you want me to go get the picture and show it to you?

Yes, I do.

Look, I was right, you were wrong.

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Friends

Here’s the thing about being Pastor and Mrs. Pastor: you can’t have friends. It

just doesn’t work.

Two months after I married the Pastor, I did the appropriate pastor-wife thing and

quit my full-time job. I had to find something to do. I did what any good pastor’s wife

would do. I found a Tuesday morning ladies’ Bible study. A Bible study not affiliated

with the church where my husband preaches.

I was glad to have something in my life that was my own. Something to look

forward to. A way to make new friends. Proper Christian lady friends. Because when

you marry a pastor and stop going to happy hour after work, your circle of friends

changes.

The first Tuesday I went to Bible study, was the first person I encountered at the

church warm and welcoming? Heck no!

The very first time I went to Bible study, I walked in the door and a woman was

coming to greet me. How lovely of her! Wait just a second, it turns out she wanted to

tackle me, practically wrestle me down to the ground, because she thought I was getting

too close to the sanctuary with my Venti Starbucks cup. Thanks lady, for showing me

what Jesus must have acted like.

I really tried to get into the Bible study.

Every Tuesday morning, I would get decked out for Bible study. I tried to tone it

down a bit and make myself look like a proper pastor’s wife, albeit a trendy and stylish

one. Never the same outfit, bag or shoes twice. Getting dressed for Bible study was

just as important as doing the homework.

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The Bible study was intended to closely cover the book of Genesis over a nine-

month period. Each week there were passages to read and specific questions to

answer. You were supposed to spend time every day working on the homework. I

could not do the homework at home. Because of my household demands? No! Are

you kidding me? I have almost nothing to do. But I couldn’t do Bible study homework

because I had to hide it from my Bible scholar husband, whose area of expertise

happens to be the Old Testament, which happens to contain the book of Genesis! If he

saw my homework and Bible study materials, he would have license to mock them.

Then as far as the actual Bible study group, I hated it. I also hated the other

ladies in the Bible study. That’s probably not how Jesus would want me to feel. This

was a large group of women, divided into smaller groups of a dozen or so for

discussion. As luck would have it, the leader of my group was someone in the

community who knew my husband and what he does for a living. This left me with the

choice of asking to change groups, possibly offending my group leader, or just staying

in the group I had been assigned to and not saying anything. I chose the latter.

I went for a while. I listened to the theologically uneducated make their scriptural

interpretations. Methuselah really lived to be 969! I listened to their prayer requests

and pretended like I cared. For instance, the woman with seven kids (yes, she home-

schooled) who wanted Jesus to give her a nicer house. I even prayed over a blue truck.

I quit the Bible study after six weeks, a complete failure. I hadn’t made any

friends, and I didn’t feel like I belonged.

it.

I didn’t give up though. I kept searching for a place to belong, and I finally found

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Weight Watchers.

The whole stress of marriage and quitting my job had caused me to gain a

couple of pounds. OK, 15. I started devoting my Tuesday mornings to Weight

Watchers meetings. And, as compared to the nice Christian ladies at Bible study, at

Weight Watchers I found complete acceptance and unconditional love. Nobody

chastised me for my Starbucks cup. Nobody cared what I wore. In fact, wearing the

least amount of clothes possible and no makeup or hair products or nail polish was

preferable. Anything that adds ounces to your weight was not encouraged.

At Weight Watchers, I found love and acceptance. No matter how badly you had

screwed up, people were glad to see you, welcome you back and completely forgive

you for anything you might have done wrong. Even if you were too afraid to join,

weren’t ready to follow the program, and didn’t want to step on the scales of justice, you

were still welcome. No matter how often you stumbled, people were there to pick you

up (even if there was a lot of you to pick up).

The only conclusion I can make from my experience is that Jesus must have

been a fatty too. I see Jesus more as the compassionate, understanding Weight

Watchers leader than I do as the cranky Bible study lady.

My prayers were answered. I found a group I could go to each Tuesday.

And, I lost 15 pounds.

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103


Home Church

We reluctantly accepted a dinner invitation to eat with a family in their home.

Reluctant, because the Pastor and I don’t seem to like anybody. However, we went

ahead and accepted the invitation because the Pastor and I are always on the lookout

for some friends. It gets lonely being Mr. and Mrs. Pastor.

The dinner went ok enough, but after dinner we moved from the table to the

family room. We thought at that point we would be making chitchat while devising an

exit strategy. Not so fast. In a few swift moves, much like changing the set in a play,

the family transformed their living room into a home church, complete with a keyboard

and hymnals.

We were trapped. There we were, having a revival service right there in the

house, complete with prayer. There were also songs. One after the other after the

other. Everyone in the family, including the kids, seemed to have their own special part

or instrument to play. There was a sermon delivered by someone other than the Pastor.

I was shocked an offering plate wasn’t passed. I was also confused. Hadn’t we eaten

first? Didn’t the potluck typically come after the service?

If we couldn’t get away from this home church, what was to stop us from being

inducted into a cult? I can now understand how so many people get involved in

Scientology.

It was a night of my life I will never get back. I still don’t believe they did this to

us. What makes anyone think, that in their down time, a Pastor and his wife want to

attend another church service?

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Now whenever we receive an invitation I’m sure to specify that I need a

vegetarian meal, and not an altar call.

conference.

Jesus, my Master, Daddy and Groom?

In a desperate attempt to make friends, I attended a Christian women’s

The conference was all about how to be a better woman.

I was thrown off when the first speaker was a man.

Of course! Now I get it! We need a man to explain to us what we are doing

wrong. Who better?

I found it hard to believe they couldn’t find a woman worthy of being the

conference opener.

Not only was the speaker a man, he was the manliest kind of man. A jock.

Complete with lots of sports metaphors.

The guy’s presentation, I later found out, was the same shtick he performs at

men’s conferences all over the United States. He just changed his pronouns.

I got so confused. First, the man talked about bondservants and how

bondservants want to be chained to their masters. We are supposed to be like a

bondservant and want to be chained to Jesus.

But then he went on to say that we were daddy’s little girls. Jesus is like

our daddy. I hate it when people use this as an example when talking about Jesus. A

lot of people maybe didn’t have such great relationships with their father, or perhaps

didn’t have one at all. To explain that Jesus is like their dad, well that just confuses

things.

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But then, he continued with Jesus is the groom and we are his bride. I was

officially lost. Just a second before, he had been telling us Jesus was our daddy, and

now we are marrying our daddy? Creepy!

Then the speaker built a cross on the stage right in front of us. He started talking

about nails in the cross and all I could think of at that point was maybe I would ditch out

of the conference and go get my nails done.

More men showed up on stage to hold up the cross. Then the speaker told us

we could write our sins down on a piece of paper and nail them onto the cross. Great,

now lets make all the women confess their sins to these men.

I didn’t meet a single person. It was clear that everyone had come in groups with

their ladies bible study groups or Sunday Schools with large groups wearing matching t-

shirts. Me trying to meet someone in the huge crowd would have been like trying to

meet someone at a rock concert.

have.

The conference was terrible. If I could have asked for my money back, I would

The evening wasn’t a total loss. I got a night out of town and stuck the Pastor

with the kids while I slept in a big fancy hotel room.

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Preacher’s Kids

If you are going to marry a Pastor, I have news for you.

Your kids will be screwed up, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s always

been this way; and it now and ever shall be.

you.

However, there are tricks. I have tips to share with you to make things easier on

Once, like usual, I was really dressed up to go to church.

The kids? I just let them go in the clothes they had been running around in

all day. I figured if I looked/dressed completely different than them, it would be easier to

not claim them as my children.

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Another time, I let the girls sit somewhere else while the Pastor was preaching.

We started receiving various reports about what the Pastor's children were doing while

he was behind the pulpit. And it wasn't listening to the Pastor. I’ve found that when

parishioners aren’t busy ratting the pastor’s wife out for some misdeed, they are busy

reporting the PK’s misdeeds.

I sought out one of the children in question and asked her what her Dad had

preached about.

Her response? "Uh, uh, uhhhhhh the Bible?"

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Pastor’s Kids: The Sequel

You know those horror movies - like "The Exorcist", "Poltergeist", "The Omen",

and “Rosemary's Baby" - the ones that feature those scary little kids? Here's my movie

idea: “The Pastor's Kid."

Trust me. It could freak people out.

Here's a sample scene. A little girl is at Wednesday night church, making a craft

about Jesus! It all seems innocent enough. We are learning about reading the Bible!

Obeying your parents! Praying! Doing nice good girl and boy things!

During this time, the pastor's kid somehow manages to:

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1. Pinch, making sure to use her fingernails, aka “weapons.”

2. Kick.

3. Pull hair.

All while learning about Jesus!

Possessed much?

When the Pastor and I were enjoying our three-week engagement, I witnessed

one of his kids biting the shoulder of his other kid. I was horrified, but I brushed it off. I

didn’t know I needed to be worried about demons or kids hearing voices or speaking in

unrecognizable languages, threatening glaring stares or devilish grins. I didn’t know

what I was getting into.

This has all the potential of making one scary flick. When somebody writes the

screenplay, be sure to give me a small cut of the profits. Maybe it will help with the

therapy bills.

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Welcome to the Jungle

I just welcomed the Pastor home from a stint teaching in the jungle.

He entered the house with a resounding, "This place smells funny."

Of course it does. We have our own version of the jungle here; the climate is

unpredictable and it includes three teenagers, one who had made garlic omelets that

morning.

More under the category of "unpredictable." It seems as though every time the

Pastor and I have any sort of discussion, he seems to like to use the word "emotional."

As in "you are being emotional." I don't know about you, and I'm not a trained

professional, but something about his use of that word/phrase is becoming a trigger for

me, and makes me want to karate chop him in the throat. Of course that may just be the

emotions talking.

What is wrong with being emotional? Let's face it. What he's really saying is

you're being a woman. Or hormonal. What I'm really saying is that he's being an idiot.

There are many wonderful emotions - appreciation, amusement, excitement, joy,

sexiness - I could go on and on. Why doesn't he say I'm being "emotional" when I'm

showing any of these emotions?

That's ok. Every once in a while, when they are not making the house stink of

b.o. and garlic eggs, having these teenagers around does come in handy. If there was

ever anyone who could show the Pastor what it's really like to demonstrate (emphasis

on the "demon" part of the word demonstrate) being emotional, it's the species known

as the teenage girl.

Bottom line - I didn't know if we needed to get her Midol or an exorcism. She

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made me look as undemonstrative and inexpressive as a man.

I'll express some appreciation for that. Now maybe the Pastor will think twice the

next time he tries to throw down the emo card. If not, you'll be able to tell by any

conspicuous bruising around his neck area.

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Technology and the Pastor’s Wife

I’ll never forget when the Pastor received an email asking him to sign a petition

against the scandalous Paris Hilton advertisement for Hardees/Carl's Jr.

Since we didn’t have cable and kept our television unplugged and put away, it is

doubtful we ever would have seen or known about the ad, except for this very nice

Christian person who made it a point that we know about it.

So, upon receiving this email, the Pastor, who doesn't watch television, doesn't

like petitions, hates religious fundamentalism, but likes hamburgers and pretty blonde

girls (uhhh, me!) reviewed the petition, and then went to find the ad on the Internet.

He told me later that not only was the ad good, but so was the burger! The ad

was apparently so tantalizing that the Pastor went out and had one of the burgers

almost immediately! Oh, the power of advertising.

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Oh Great and Powerful Wizard!

I've never read the whole Bible, and I can't recall from memory all Ten

Commandments. I'm sure this comes as no shocker to my Pastor/Bible Scholar

husband and would disappoint the mother who always made sure I was at Sunday

School and prayed I would digest every written word of the Bible. I don’t think I’m

missing anything; if there is something I need to know, someone will make a movie or

TV show about it. Maybe someone already has.

I do know in the book of Revelation (the Pastor has taught me it is in fact

Revelation and not Revelations as it’s often mispronounced) some main street was pure

gold. That sounds a lot like The Wizard of Oz. I’ve seen that movie, and I figure it

encapsulates everything I need to know.

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There hasn’t been a time when I’ve brought up the The Wizard of Oz in

conversation when someone doesn’t want to talk about the scary flying monkeys. With

all there is in this movie, people want to talk about the evil, flying monkeys, who don’t

even speak and were just following orders.

I've always liked monkeys. The flying ones didn't bother me. Nor did the Wicked

Witches. In fact, the only difference I could really see between the good and bad

witches was that maybe the good girl got the better dress. The bad girls? Even if a

house did land on one of them, she had the really great red shoes. Dorothy wasn’t that

special. Who takes used shoes – even fabulous ones - off of a dead witch? OK, maybe

that is precariously close to buying all your shoes at thrift stores like I do now, but at

least I don’t know the previous owners.

I loved when the Wizard of Oz came on TV. I'm dating myself, but this was in

pre-instantaneous self-gratification days when it only came on TV once a year, which

made it special. My mom would make cherry turnovers, and we'd get to stay up late

and watch the movie. It didn’t give me nightmares.

At least Dorothy got to go on all these great adventures and make new friends as

she journeyed down the Yellow Brick Road. All the time she must have had on her

journey to the Emerald City just to think! The mental space and clarity she must have

had! No one was around to judge her when she relaxed in the poppy field.

I don’t care if I’d be in imminent danger of witches and flying monkeys. I’d love

that kind of space and freedom (and even perhaps the sparkly used shoes). Time to

think. Time to answer all the questions I have about the meaning of life.

My husband recently left for a three-month fellowship to study peace and conflict

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esolution in another country, 12 hours ahead of me. That’s so far away it might as well

be Oz. I can’t tell you how much disharmony and unraveling it caused in our house for

my husband to go study peace and conflict resolution. I tried everything – I used my

best good and bad witch techniques, but he still left and I didn’t get to go this time. I

was left at home to take care of everything, including three teenagers in various stages

of adolescence and ability to annoy me.

At least, I figured, I’d get some time off from being the woman-behind-the-man

and finally have the space to follow my Yellow Brick Road. I’d get to work on the

projects I want to get done. Granted, those projects often look a lot like me sitting in

front of the TV watching a murder trial (but like Dorothy in the poppy field, please don’t

judge me). Most important – I knew my husband’s absence would mean three whole

months when nobody would even notice if I don’t show up at church.

phone.

Not so fast.

Not once in the Wizard of Oz did I see Dorothy ever have to check a smart

Now I know gone are the days that people went out of town and were truly

gone. Apparently, international calling and video chatting has never been easier or

cheaper. I was “blessed” with my husband video chatting with me every single day.

Here’s another flashback from my childhood. I remember watching The Jetson's

and thinking how cool their videophone was. If someone happened to call when Mrs.

Jetson wasn’t at her best, she had a mask she could hold up and instantaneously look

fabulous.

Some people are afraid of flying monkeys; I live in fear of the floating head on the

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screen. I don't like all this technology. I don't like it one bit, unless I’m using it for my

own instantaneous self-gratification. I cannot escape. If I’m on the computer, he’s there

still giving me tasks for my woman-behind-the-man to-do list and orders to follow. He

can video chat with me on my fancy phone too. The first night he video called me, I

accidentally answered and he got to see me mixing drinks. I had to swear on one of the

Bibles lying around our house that they were mocktails. Fortunately for me, the video

call does have its limitations with smell and taste.

Also, he doesn't get the chance to miss me. He’s twelve hours away from

me. When he does video chat with me, sometimes it's without warning and I don't have

the Jane Jetson mask to hold up.

My only defense to all this technology is that I still have the ability to

ignore. Thankfully, no one can take that away from me yet. All I can say is, when he

eventually comes home, I hope he has some practical peace and conflict resolving

skills.

Not only has this experience made me a little angry with my husband, but it

hasn’t helped my relationship with the other Great Wizard either. God - the ultimate

studier of peace and conflict resolution. Unless I go to the Mega Church of the

Jumbotron (which I’m as forbidden to do as I am to hang out in a poppy field) I have

nothing to relate to, nothing in my frame of reference to help me to understand what or

who God is. No floating God head on the screen. No personal emails. No YouTube

videos. All I’ve got is some big confusing book, and half of the Bibles I pick up in this

house to swear on are in Hebrew. I can’t even understand the thing in English. God, in

all her infinite wisdom, expects lil’ ol’ me to figure out things on my own. This, not flying

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monkeys, is the stuff of my nightmares.

When Dorothy finally got to the Emerald City, the Great and Powerful Oz turned

out to be a giant fraud. He told her and the others they already had what they were all

looking for. Deep down inside, they already knew what to do.

Maybe that’s why I sit around and watch TV. It’s easy. I’m afraid if I journey

down my own Yellow Brick Road I’ll learn that I already knew what I was supposed to

do and I am just too lazy to do it.

Maybe someday I’ll find a makeup mask. Maybe I’ll get bored enough, or run

out of TV to watch, and find my Emerald City. At the very least, maybe I’ll find some

church where no one knows me or a poppy field where no one can see me and I can

get some peace and quiet for an hour.

Until then, I’m just sticking with what I know. I have to make my own cherry

turnovers now, and I’m downloading The Wizard of Oz on iTunes.

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Stalking: The Highest Form of Flattery

Thanks to the Internet, I am no longer burdened by having to maintain a recipe

card for banana bread. Now whenever I have bananas rotting on my kitchen counter

(which happens approximately four days after I go to the grocery store) I just Google

banana bread and can conveniently scroll through recipes before I ultimately decide to

just throw the bananas in the trash.

We have all of these wonderful advancements, but there's just one thing the

Internet can't overcome.

People who are just plain bananas. Crazy people.

Maybe not with my bananas, but I do try to keep up with the modern world. I

Phone, I Pad, I Pod, I Touch, I Blog, I Tweet. I want it all, and I am fortunate to have

built-in tech support in the form of a teenage son. God made teenagers good with

technology so we would allow them to survive to adulthood.

I combined my love of the latest technology with my love the Pastor. He's a Bible

geek/scholar with a stack of degrees. But since he's off the charts smart it means he

says and does the dumbest things. Also, since all Bible Scholars are complete

narcissists and love nothing more than for people to talk about them. I thought all of this

would make an adorable Blog. To protect his identity I always called him "The

Pastor." After the Blog came Facebook and then Twitter. I found all sorts of things to

do with my technology and time, but I can assure you it was always good, clean fun.

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

It’s not bad enough that I’m lightly stalked just by people who know the Pastor. I

have people who ask to be my cyber “friend” whom I’ve never met, just because I’m

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married to the Pastor.

One of these people is a lady who must just sit on the computer and wait for me

to do something. I think she’s specifically waiting for me to do something I’m not

supposed to do. She is constantly commenting on my Facebook and Twitter

messages, very near after I post them.

My Facebook page, my Twitter account and my Blog are all censured by the

Pastor. When I’ve just been myself, he’s asked me to remove messages because

people might find them unbecoming for the Pastor’s wife. I’m certainly not allowed to

use any special words.

Since I’m interested in fashion and proud of my bargains, I frequently post my

“Outfit of the Day.” I caption my pictures with information about the good deal I had got

at the thrift store. The Pastor thought it was tacky that I was disclosing all my thrift store

shopping and that I should keep it a secret. What else could I do? Let people think that

the Pastor’s wife was paying full retail for such cute outfits? No matter what I do I’m in

trouble. People who shop in glass houses!

One day, my husband received an odd Facebook message from someone he

didn’t know who lived across the country. "I need to speak to you about your wife's

Twitter."

Oh how lovely! A new friend! A fan of my writing! Perhaps he would like an

autograph! Maybe this would lead to a book deal! Here's a secret about Bloggers and

Tweeters - we're all complete narcissists too.

Thanks to the Internet, Mr. Crazy who claimed he didn't even know what Twitter

was (huh?) had stumbled across my "secret" Twitter feed and determined the adoration

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I was having for this guy named "The Pastor" was a torrid, secret love affair. Mr. Crazy

felt a spiritual witness - or perhaps one of his voices in his head told him to do it - to be

the one to tell my husband about my affair. Mr. Crazy tracked down my husband to

expose me.

But he didn't stop there.

Mr. Crazy also contacted our church. And the University where my husband

teaches Bible classes. So much for protecting my husband's identity. Impressive work

for someone who had never even heard of Twitter.

Mr. Crazy was at least conveniently able to do all of his stalking from the comfort

of his own couch, miles and miles away from me. I say if it's far enough away where no

one has to go to court or get one of those pesky restraining orders, no harm and no

foul. The whole experience, as flattering as it was to have a stalker, did curtail my

Blogging and Tweeting and seriously made me reconsider my Facebook security

settings.

Don't worry about me though. There's always a silver lining. I had grown up in

one of those fundamentalist homes where cards were of the Devil. Sure I knew what

Twitter was, but I didn't know how to play cards. All of this new found free time without

all the Blogging and Facebooking, I finally learned how to play Free Cell and Solitaire

(thanks to that helpful teenage son). Yes, this iPad I play cards on is the most

expensive deck of cards ever.

Whoever said cards were of the Devil was just crazy (Sorry, Mom). Sure the

banana bread still doesn't get made, but I've never been better behaved in my life. I just

sit on my couch all day and play cards. No shopping, no trips to Starbucks, no bad

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television and certainly no torrid love affairs. Except, of course, with that guy I'm

married to. Please don't tell anyone.

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The View from the Front Pew

I do not have a Ph.D. or two master’s degrees like my Bible Scholar of a

husband, but I do consider myself something of an expert on preaching.

As the preacher’s wife, I have to listen to a whole lot of sermons. Sometimes I

have to suffer through the same sermon twice in one Sabbath. And if the Pastor thinks

a particular sermon is good and we take it on the road, I might have to listen to the

same sermon so many times I could preach the thing myself (and probably do a better

job). Not only do I have to listen but I have to listen from the front pew, looking

attractive and interested while keeping one to three of our children in various states of

looking attractive and interested, or at least awake.

I’m just biding my time. Maybe someday I will get to preach. When I do it will be

the perfect sermon.

I won’t tell people to not be consumers or anything like that because I’ll be so

excited about preaching I’ll probably have bought a new outfit.

My sermon will go something like this: a bunch of the stories in the Biblical Text

are just made-up; I don’t know anything theological, but Jesus was nice. Be like Jesus.

Then I’ll say let’s all go eat Mexican food because I think Jesus approves of

Mexican food. You eat the free chips and salsa and they keep bringing out more, kind

of like modern-day loaves and fishes. Which is, by the way, not a made-up story.

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Is this what church is supposed to look like?

When we had dated long enough in the Pastor’s mind and I was finally allowed to

go to the church the Pastor used to be at, I was shocked. It didn’t look or feel anything

like what I thought a church should be.

First of all, it was outside in a large community of apartment complexes. There

were no hymns. No one preached and there were no other adults to interact with. Just

ministering to kids in an inner-city community and providing them with a meal.

There was no bookstore or gift shop, no overstuffed chairs, no donuts, no coffee

bar (or even a coffee pot) and no small paper cups of Kool-Aid or animal crackers for

the kids in Sunday School.

There were about eight kids running around and playing with water balloons. No

parents were anywhere in sight. One of the kids was in a diaper. How can a baby be

unsupervised? The only white kid belonged to the Pastor.

I heard things like “my daddy is married to my mommy but he sleeps with his

girlfriend” – from a four year old. There were prayer requests about things like being

evicted and having a daddy in jail.

I got to see young girls sing and dance to songs they were way way way too

young to be singing and dancing to. The good news is I think I learned a new dance

move. Hands on knees, bottom sticking out. That’s all I can describe. Guess I couldn’t

have done that at just any old church, especially the ones where dancing is prohibited.

I got to hold the one in a diaper. I had never imagined a world where a stranger

takes care of someone else’s baby. I fed her some pizza and she would neither

swallow the food nor spit it out. I was terrified she would choke.

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I just wanted to sing a hymn. Hear an organ. Perhaps even a nice Christian

church band that gets all “wild” and has a senior citizen gently tapping on a drum set

older than I am.

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Sermon Fodder

As it turns out, the Pastor DOESN'T need my help when he's preaching. He

didn't appreciate me giving him secret hand signals nearly as much as I thought he

would. While it was ok for the mentally handicapped woman to interrupt church and

demand from her seat in the pew that we pray for the awful cartoons on television, it

was not ok for me to distract him. Oh well. He couldn't have been too upset. He still

took me to brunch at the German place.

Once we went out of town so the Pastor could preach at a church. I got to hear

the sermon at least four times. I could preach the thing myself by now.

It was from the book of Jeremiah and it was about how these people were in the

temple and thought they were safe because they were in the temple, and this guy tells

them not so fast! Just because you are in the temple is not enough! God wants you to

also do a bunch of stuff. And NOT do other stuff.

So this guy tells the people you've got to follow these rules, which sound a whole

lot like the Ten Commandments. And you know who was really good at living the way

we are supposed to live? This other guy named Jesus! This sermon also involves

Snack Ribs and Bologna. Actually, it's Sennacherib and the Babylonians, but after I

heard the sermon the first two times, Nate and I started making up our own little

amusing anecdotes.

You are welcome for this helpful re-cap. I just saved you from listening to a 45-

minute sermon.

When the Pastor preached a sermon from Jonah, I was frustrated. Isn't Jonah

an incredibly short book in the Bible? Seriously, how many sermons can you get out of

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it?

Specifically, he preached on Jonah and arguments. He had a heart-warming

story about a married couple arguing to illustrate his sermon. Did he illustrate his

sermon with one of our arguments? No. Like the time he introduced me to two people

we were getting ready to have dinner with as his girlfriend “April” and I had to gently and

awkwardly explain to them that wasn’t my name. Like Valentine's Day 2009? Like

Valentine's Day 2008? Like Valentine's Day 2007? Like Valentine's Day 2006? Like

Valentine's Day 2005? I could go on and on and on. So many choices, yet he used a

story about another couple. I was disappointed.

While I didn’t make it into that sermon, I have provided material for others.

I admitted to the Pastor I didn't know what "Pentecost" means. Is that really my

fault? Isn't that some great failure of "the Church,” after all, I've been going my entire my

life! Fast-forward to the Pastor's sermon. The Pastor (who you will recall is also a

Professor) starts off his sermon with a delightful anecdote about how he was "teaching"

last week and one of his "students" didn't know the meaning of Pentecost.

Yes, I was his stupid student.

As delighted as I was to actually find a place in his sermon, as that has been

such a rarity, this isn't what I had in mind.

He can make fun of me all he wants for not knowing about Pentecost, but then

he went on during his sermon to include countless references to "Independence Day."

What? It's no wonder I still don't learn anything at church. I spent the rest of the sermon

not listening, willing the Pastor to look at me so I could mouth the words "MEMORIAL

DAY" to him. Me, the stupid student, at least knew it was MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND.

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I did learn about Pentecost. Pentecost = Birthday, and if anyone knows what

Birthday means, it's me. Someone’s getting cupcakes!

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The Ladies are Coming!

I’d heard this proclaimed throughout our inner-city church for weeks. The way

people were excited about it; you’d have thought we were getting ready for Santa Claus,

the Easter Bunny or even Jesus himself.

But if a shaggy guy like Jesus showed up at our church, we probably wouldn’t

notice. He’d blend in with the homeless, the crazies, the unmedicated and the

unshowered. Come to think of it, there is a guy who looks like a homeless Santa. I’m

always extra nice to him – just in case.

But Ladies? We’d notice Ladies! Fine, upstanding Church Ladies!

The Ladies Bible Study at our “sister” church had adopted one of our women’s

bathrooms. The Ladies were going to bless the ladies of our church and re-do one, yes

one, of our ladies’ bathrooms, a bathroom that hadn’t been decorated since sometime in

the 1960’s.

After weeks of anticipation, the big bathroom unveiling finally arrived and I had to

pee. More on that later.

I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall at the Monday afternoon Ladies

Bible Study Group. Where they met at one of the Ladies $300,000 houses. Where they

made coffee in a $200 coffee maker, sipped out of fine china cups and saucers while

they nibbled on $2 cupcakes and thought about what they could do to bless our church.

It hasn’t been that many years since I would have thought that I would have liked

to have been on that side. Believe me, I’ve tried the Monday afternoon Bible study. I.

Just. Couldn’t. Take. It. This fact surprised no one more than me, what with my

penchant for new outfits and gourmet coffee and cake.

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I changed when I started going to the inner city church. The coffee is donated by

Starbucks, but I still can’t convince myself to pour a Styrofoam cup of it because I’ve

seen too many cockroaches in the kitchen. I’ve even brought a few of the bugs home

with me who have managed to plan an escape via my own shamefully expensive

purse. That tells you everything you need to know about our church – even the

cockroaches are looking for a better life.

Back to the church service. Turns out, Since I had to pee, I christened the “new”

bathroom on the Sunday the Ladies arrived to unveil their blessing.

Back in the pew, my Pastor husband was not preaching, so we were sitting on

the back row - earning me all the credit of going to church, but with all the fun of playing

on my iPhone the entire service with no one able to see me. The choir was still

singing. I leaned over to my husband and whispered “animal print rug, Bible verse

decal on the wall, mirror and decorative cross hanging on the wall.”

Yes, that was the extent of the Ladies extreme bathroom makeover. Four things,

three of which have probably already been stolen by the time I write this.

As we sang, I was able to view the backs of everyone’s head. All the Ladies and

their husbands who came to make the big bathroom announcement. The Ladies with

their fresh beauty parlor hair, their husbands in suits. It’s quite easy to spot the visitors

from the regulars at our church, especially since they sit huddled together in the middle

of our sanctuary lest any “fringe” elements affect them.

Sitting right in front of them was my friend Angel. I got to know Angel a few

months back from working in the church’s soup kitchen. We struck up a conversation

one day after she came through the line because I overheard her asking for a

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vegetarian plate. Since I’m a veggie girl too, this led to friendship.

Angel lives in a house near our church. She has no water, no electricity, and no

natural gas. She can’t turn on the heat, air conditioner, cook, take a bath, turn on the

lights, store food, do laundry or, well, basically anything you actually “do” in a

home. She can, however, hoard animals.

house.

She certainly doesn’t have any Monday afternoon ladies Bible study at her

A few weeks before the Ladies came, I took Angel to the eye doctor because her

eyeglasses were hanging on by one earpiece. But I’m sure deep down inside, Angel

was probably thinking how much better her life would be if she just had an animal print

rug in the bathroom.

After the choir finished, one of the Ladies went up to the platform and was

handed a microphone. She testified to what a blessing it had been for these Ladies to

adopt our bathroom. She announced she would sing.

Next to Angel, in front of the Ladies, and directly in front of the soloist on the front

row was the church retard.

That’s part of going to an inner city church. There is no political

correctness. People just are what they are. I’m not being rude here. You are retarded,

you smell, you’re black, you’re stupid, you’re the white girl, you hear voices, you’re a

hooker, you’re fresh out of jail from shoplifting, you’re drunk. It is what it is. This

particular lady on the front pew? She’s retarded, she’s loud and she talks in church all

the time. Retarded Lady sits next to her friend - Single-Leg-Amputee Lady in the

wheelchair.

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Before the Church Lady can sing her song, the Retarded Lady looks at Amputee

Lady, then bellows, “Did you finally make our bathroom handicap accessible?”

There was an awkward silence. The Church Lady was motionless, microphone

in hand, pre-packaged CD music not yet cued. We waited – all of us - for an answer to

the retard’s question.

“Uhhhhhhh, no we didn’t.”

I would have liked to have been at Ladies Bible Study the following day. I’m sure

the Ladies thought they had blessed us. Despite their Bible study and cash contribution,

our church retard proved herself both smarter and more compassionate than all of those

fine, upstanding Church Ladies.

It probably has something to do with her believing in the Trinity: Santa, the Easter

Bunny and Jesus.

*****

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Taking the Pastor to Church

I know it's disgusting, but I have owned five brand new cars in my life. I have

more pairs of shoes than I care to admit (ok, I'm just afraid my husband will read this.)

But in my defense, I'm only on my second husband.

One of the new cars I received, my dad bought for me. The deal was, if I gave

back an engagement ring and called off a wedding he'd buy me a new car. It was shiny

red and beautiful. It was a nice engagement ring, but the car? It was nicer. Now I know

my dad was right. Had I married that guy the Pastor would be my third husband!

When the Pastor goes out of town, I do what any good Pastor's wife does. I

Google the words "gay affirming church" and away I speed off in my little red car. It's not

nearly as cute as the red car I traded the ring for - in fact, it's the car equivalent of a

house of cards. Sometimes the key won't come out of the ignition. Or work in the trunk.

Or locks. I know the car is going to fall apart soon, and I shudder at the thought of what

the Pastor will come up with for me to drive next.

Back to the Gay Church. I went and it was love at first sight. No boxes of stale

donuts at the Gay Church, but a full spread of goodies. Biscuits and gravy in sterling

silver warming trays. Gourmet coffee and tea. And the very best thing? Cake.

Wonderful birthday cake with the good icing for the fat girl inside me. Needless to say,

after seven years of inner-city cockroach-infested churches with the Pastor, I'm easy to

impress with food.

And the people! Bears. Bear Cubs. Transsexuals. Pre op and post. Drag

Queens. Drag Kings. Full length mink coats. I couldn't have been happier. I finally felt

like I belonged.

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I managed to drag the Pastor with me on another Sunday. He confirmed what I

already knew. The people were fabulous.

I even managed to make the Pastor go to a "wedding" at the church. It wasn't

legal - the bride and groom, or groom and groom? Were just playing pretend. The

bride? The groom? Ok, the bride wore purple. It had never dawned on me you could

wear whatever color you want to your wedding.

I'm not going to lie. This made me a teensy bit angry. I've been married twice

and I've worn an icky white dress both times. And when you are estranged from your

parents for coming out of the closet wearing the full-length mink, you don't have to deal

with your meddlesome mother interfering in your wedding. Genius. Not only are the

Gays getting married, they are doing it better than us - you know, the ones who have all

the experience.

I don't care who gets married and whom they get married to. I've had the

privilege of doing it twice so far. I didn't need the piece of paper with the Pastor. But

the Pastor? He had to ask permission of his church leaders to marry me.

Let's be honest. We didn't get married because of some romantic fantasy. We

got married because the Pastor was going on a trip overseas and I couldn't travel with

him in the eyes of God and the church unless we were official. This time I didn't get a

car or other prizes. I traded my passport for a diamond ring.

We were going to elope. Eloping would have meant I could wear whatever I

wanted. I had the most beautiful coral dress at the ready. Then the Pastor was told by

the church powers that be that if we eloped it would be "frowned upon."

A wedding date was set. The coral dress was returned for the traditional white

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one. Bleh.

Everyone was happy, that is, everyone except me and the Pastor.

I guess none of that mattered. We've managed to make it this far.

The Pastor and I were in-between churches and didn’t know where we would

land. We seemed to be unhappy with everywhere we tried. The Pastor and I talked

about it, and he said we needed to go somewhere where the people aren't judgey. Or

fundamentalists. A church that ministers to the community. A church that doesn't have

a ginormous budget.

Uhhh honey? You just described the Gay Church. For such a smart guy, the

Pastor can be pretty dense sometimes. He better watch out - I do have that enormous

diamond ring and a couple hundred pairs of shoes. Wonder what I could trade

for? Perhaps a full-length mink? I know just the place to wear it.

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The Traveling Preaching Rodeo

No One Wants to Steal Jesus

Oh, the fun places the Pastor has taken me.

I had driven by the roadside signs my entire life, and not once had I taken the

highway exit. Until one day when I was on the road with the Pastor and he said let's do

it. Yes, that's what wild and crazy road-trippers we are. We will throw caution to the

wind and exit to go see The National Shrine of the The Miraculous Infant Jesus of

Prague. Ok, that and I really needed to go to the bathroom.

Here's the story. In the 1500's, a friar had a vision of the baby Jesus. (Yes those

Catholics were always having "visions." I unfortunately belong to a faith that doesn't

drink and I've noticed no one ever has the "visions." Hmmm.) Anyway, this friar felt it

was his calling to build a Jesus statue. In his vision he was told to make the baby Jesus

18 inches tall. Jesus holds a globe, after all he's got the whole world in his hand, and

the other hand is extending a blessing with the first two fingers raised. In my visions I

usually just bless people with the uprising of one finger, but I'm no deity. It wasn't

enough to just make the statue. Those Catholics are fancy. They made a wardrobe of

royal attire for him too. A Jesus doll!

In 1629, some lady who had acquired the statue/doll, was no doubt bored

dressing him up and realized it wasn't worth anything, decided to give it away to a

church. She claimed the Jesus doll was her dearest possession and if people honored

it, they would never want.

Wow. I had some dolls that were my dearest possessions and I never shared

them. Not even with my best friend. I'm selfish like that.

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The story goes the friars at the church did whatever it is Catholics do with a

statue that's supposedly not worship, but really is, and good things happened to them.

But then the Thirty Years War happened in Prague. The friars fled the

church. And what happened to their precious baby Jesus statue? Did they bother to

take it with them? It was, after all, portable. No. They chucked it into a storage

room. And when the church was looted, none of the robbers thought the Jesus statue

was even worth stealing.

Five years later, the friars got to come back and guess what? They had

completely forgotten about the Jesus statue they had previously worshipped. Guess

they were having some good "visions" about other stuff.

Eventually some sober priest found the statue, dusted baby Jesus off and

remembered they were supposed to be taking good care of this decorative hunk of wax-

coated wood.

Fast forward to the late 1940's. Some church in the middle of rural America was

having tough times. Didn't they know if they just prayed to the Infant Jesus of Prague

that all of their dreams would come true? So they got the statue.

If this statue was so important and did such great things, how come no one

wanted to keep it and it couldn't even get stolen?

In the statue's new home, a priest (probably not one of the sober ones) caught

the eye of the statue and promised the statue he would build a shrine for it. Creepy!

A church was built. The Jesus statue nobody really cared about but that

supposedly performs all kinds of miracles sits outside in the elements where anyone

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can steal it. These people really have faith in miracles!

But Jesus' clothes? His royal attire? You wouldn't believe how many outfits the

baby Jesus statue has. It makes a girl envious. The outfits are in locked glass cabinets

inside the church. I'm sure there is a huge black market for Catholic regalia designed

specifically for an 18-inch statue.

And Infant Jesus' gift shop? There's a lock on that door. Wouldn't want anyone

to steal his cash register. Someone's got to pay for all those clothes and dry cleaning

isn't cheap.

His bathroom was locked up too. I had to go to a gas station to pee.

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Fun with Blow Up Toys

I never went to church camp. The possibility of having to take a group shower,

even when I only weighed 80 pounds, was terrifying. But then I married the Pastor and

I got to go to Church camp.

Church camp. Where you sit around and wait for lives to be changed. Lives that

haven’t even begun to need changing yet.

In one of the chapel services, the Pastor made me sit in the back, of all places!

As if! I always sat on the front row, even before I met him. I had been Pastor's wife in

training for years!

I had been reading a book, had 18 pages left and really wanted to finish it. The

Pastor took my book away before chapel, but he did not take away my phone so I could

still write this. Ha! I showed him – and I set an example to all those young people

about the kinds of things people need to change in their lives.

The Pastor stood on stage between blow up totem poles and palm trees and

talked about Mark 8. I had no idea what that passage of the Bible says, but the Pastor’s

hand motions were the most animated I had ever seen. It had to have been the

inflatables.

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Diva Demands

The Pastor and I once took the traveling pastoral road show to a small town I’d

never heard of.

were white.

I googled it to find as of the last census, it had 688 residents and 97% of them

While looking for a cup of coffee, I stood out in my stylish clothes and eye make-

up not becoming of a Pastor’s wife.

The Pastor always gets frustrated with these out-of-town speaking engagements.

He never knows how much he is going to get paid up-front; he just takes whatever

people give him. He doesn't ever know what the accommodations will be ahead of time.

For instance, he was on the phone with the pastor of the church who was trying

to woo him to come. He asked the guy what he thought to be basic questions, like will

there be a place for my kids to sleep? Uhhhhhhhh, he didn't know.

Invariably what happens on these deals is we end up spending a lot of time

driving in the car, the Pastor gets all mad and it's in no way beneficial to us, but some

lucky people get to hear the Pastor preach.

I told the Pastor this is ridiculous. Whenever stars like Mariah Carey or Britney

Spears get asked to go to an engagement, their publicist or assistant or handler or

whatever, will send over the list of demands. Like white flowers MUST be in the

dressing room or a bowl full of only red M&M's. The Pastor needs to get busy on his list

of demands before I write it for him. You can bet a decent cup of coffee for the pastor’s

wife will be the number one request.

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Bad Haircuts and Scary Beards: The Bible Scholar

Scene: our marital bed.

I snuggle up next to the Pastor. I take my leg and throw it over the Pastor. I

have my leg over the Pastor’s waist. What is his response?

“I’m so excited I get to go to the Society of Biblical Literature meeting!

I’m glad the Pastor is excited to go be with 4,000 other Bible Geeks.

I love Bible Conferences. You can be assured there will be horrible haircuts and

un-kempt beards. Bad fashion is every-wear. And that doesn't exclude the women.

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The Missionary Position

I can totally see how the Pastor would make an excellent missionary. He

certainly has the wardrobe for it.

I’m thinking he would especially make an excellent missionary for some Third

World Country with a bunch of starving people. After I started dating the Pastor, within

a year I had packed on 15 pounds. He made sure I was well fed. If we went on some

mission trip and he was able to use his influence to do this for all the starving people,

the world would be a better place.

Once upon a time, in the wealthiest land in the whole wide world, there lived a

beautiful girl who dreamed of growing up to be a princess, and/or a ballerina, and/or a

missionary.

Unfortunately I was too uncoordinated for ballet, too young for Prince Charles,

too old for William or Harry, and, well my excuse for not becoming a missionary is a bit

weaker. Frankly, it turns out I’m just a bit too selfish and spoiled to head off into all the

world.

Hey, at least I tried. First of all, I married a Pastor. Shouldn’t that automatically

put you on some sort of fast track to a missionary position?

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One year, we spent two weeks with an actual missionary couple in an actual

Third World country. It was awful. Those people were poor. I mean pooooooor.

Sometimes there was no water and no electricity. How are you supposed to get

anything done when someone keeps turning off the lights? And the food was terrible.

There was definitely not a Mexican restaurant or one of those specialty ice-cream stores

where a scoop costs $6. How was I supposed to even support the local economy

without any decent shops? On the bright side, I got to learn how the brides in the

country dressed up, and it was weird.

The ladies who gave me a “bridal makeover” were impressed by my highlights.

They wanted to know how I keep them in for so long. When I saw the Pastor later that

day, I told him you don’t need Bibles to reach these people, just good hair products.

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Have you ever seen the application form a missionary has to fill out? Once, I had

one that came with helpful information about preparing to become a missionary, but

there wasn’t anything about the wardrobe you’ll need or special vegetarian meals or

really important stuff like where to get a pedicure. There was a smattering about the

cross-cultural experience. I couldn’t tell if my eating at culturally diverse restaurants like

the Indian place I liked to frequent counted for anything.

One of the questions on the missionary application was: “Describe your

understanding of God’s call on your life.” They gave you about two inches to write an

answer. It doesn’t take that much room to write, “I don’t know.” And if I did know, surely

God’s call would be bigger than two inches.

Another question was “Describe a time when you have been under extreme

stress and how you responded.” Well, it stressed me something awful just to fill out a

missionary application, so I responded by giving up and putting it in a drawer for two

years.”

Since the missionary role doesn’t seem to suit me, I thought maybe I could just

sit at home on my bottom in front of my computer and find a starving orphan

somewhere to sponsor or perhaps become Facebook friends with. According to the

Christian Children’s Fund, I could sponsor a Mexican orphan for just $24 a month. Less

than a dollar a day! Notice how they no longer say “less than the price of a cup of

coffee a day!”

I probably spend a good $30 on Mexican food every week. Fifty-two weeks in a

year, and I could have sponsored five whole orphans, and part of another one, or

possibly a very small one.

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I kept looking. The Children’s Hope website kindly informed me I could sponsor

a Colombian orphan for $32 per month. A bit more pricey than a Mexican kid but it

makes sense because Colombian coffee is so good – which I know from Starbucks –

and these kids may well have daily coffee habits to support which I can fully understand.

I browsed the photos of kids I might sponsor; noticing that one of the orphans

was wearing a suit and a tie. What the heck is an orphan doing wearing a suit and a

tie? The kid’s got a suit and someone’s got a digital camera or probably even an

iPhone and a website. Surely someone around him has money to buy him a sandwich.

I think there’s an app for that. But I know I shouldn’t think like that. Anyway, I’m not

even going to do any sort of mathematical calculation here. I’m too lazy and I know in

my heart I spend more than $32 a month at Starbucks. It’s safe to say I could sponsor

a Columbian village with the money spent on my habits.

My husband “sponsors” me to the tune of $900 cash a month, which comes out

to about $30 a day. And I can’t even live on that. Between meals out, manicures,

shopping, hair-related expenses and eyebrow waxes, I’m constantly running out of

cash.

So what about me? I’m feeling needy too. Sometimes it seems like no one

cares about my little nail-polished, perfumed, pretty-panty-wearing, made-up existence.

Put my cute face on some website: middle-aged, failed missionary candidate, living in

the wealthiest country in the world, having existential crisis. Surely there’s someone in

the Third World who could sponsor my lazy butt. I wouldn’t ask them to pick up my $30-

a-day price tag, but maybe they could give me tips on stretching my money, or provide

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meaningful quotes to put on my fridge, or help me fill out those two inches on the

missionary application form, or just send me some good Mexican recipes.

website.

I’m off to Starbucks to get started on my Sponsor a Spoiled, Failed Missionary

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Culture Shock

I learned about Culture Shock the hard way. Googling my symptoms while I was

on a mission trip with the Pastor.

It was somewhat ironic that I couldn’t finish my research on the topic because the

electricity went off as it does sporadically in these countries that missionaries like to

visit.

Here is what I found out. Culture shock is like a disease! There's a cause (duh!),

symptoms (duh!) and finally, a cure. I'm not sure what the cure is though. Acceptance?

Memory loss of your life back home? Going home?

The first phase is the "honeymoon phase.” Doesn't that sound exciting? Of

course I'm always in the honeymoon phase with the sexy and handsome Pastor.

Actually, our honeymoon phase on this trip involved about 40 hours of travel. I guess

once you survive that, much like surviving a wedding, it's easy to breathe a sigh of relief.

The 2nd phase is the rejection phase. The “everything is completely awful here”

phase. Check! This is where you complain and whine about things and only notice the

bad stuff. Like tons of swarming flies. Check! That's easy enough, I do that at home!

Hey, it's hard to notice the good stuff when you're in a freakin' third world country! One

of the missionaries we are with described this place as "not even a third world country -

it's more like a 2/3rds world country!" I'm still not sure if that means this is better or

worse than your typical third world country. Hmmmm.

Then there is the regression phase. Everything about your home country is

fondly remembered as fabulous. Duh! Duh! Duh! I'm an American in a 2/3rds world

country! Of course everything back home seems fabulous! See how much fabulous stuff

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I can rattle off: 1. Mexican food! 2. Starbucks (like this wasn't going to make the list) 3.

Electricity, 24/7! 4. Water that comes out of the tap without dirt. 5. A closet full of stuff

(they don't even have closets here!) 6. Mexican food! 7. Animals slaughtered in

PRIVATE 8. Mexican food, Mexican food, Mexican food! Mexican food times infinity!

Blah, blah blah. I know! I am a big spoiled baby.

The next phase is the recovery phase. You are finally at peace with things like

the constant blaring of Sitar music from across the street, strangers feeling free to lick

you and people who exist without toilet paper.

The final phase is reverse culture shock when you get home. I went home to find

that none of my trashy neighbors butcher animals in their yards and that hymen repair is

not the most popular surgical procedure around town.

All Cows go to Heaven

When the Pastor and I went to Kosovo for him to teach a Bible class, we stayed

with a missionary family at their house.

While we were there, one day, a cow just showed up, tied to a front porch in our

shared courtyard.

For a whole day, every time I stepped outside, I took a quick look around to make

sure the cow was still there. Then I would exhale with relief. As the day went on and it

got later and later, I thought good, they are not going to kill the cow today.

Then, I was in our room, reading and minding my own business, when the Pastor

called out to me (why oh why does he do stuff like this). I went to where the Pastor was

and glanced out the window just in time to see Bessie get clunked in the head and

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slashed in the throat. And that lovely memory will be filed away under the category of

"things you just cannot un-see."

For those of you who have not had the opportunity to observe animal slaughter

from a few yards away, the whole kill-a-cow process takes mere seconds. I wonder just

how many living things you have to kill before you are able to kill without any hesitation

whatsoever. And then, as your victim lies bleeding in the grass, go smoke a cigarette as

you wait for the final breathe.

Needless to say, I wasn't comfortable until the butcher had left the premises.

And the poor stray puppy that hung around. I watched stray puppy out the window,

imagining his stray puppy thoughts. Like: Oh, I think I'll go see my friend Cow! Is Cow

sleeping? But I guess stray puppy really wasn't all that bothered by the whole thing as

he had no trouble eating Bessie.

I have been a vegetarian for years. This trip didn’t change that.

This is what I learned in the mission field. I couldn’t save the world. I couldn’t

even save a cow.

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I’m on to you Pastor!

The Mystery of the Missing Socks? The Clue on the Dryer? The Case of the

Foiled Footwear? I'm playing around with what my Nancy Drew book titles for this one

would be. Seems like the Pastor has a dirty little secret. Technically I guess it would be

a clean little secret, but I've got him all figured out, and I didn't need my bobby pins or

flashlight to solve this one.

The Pastor went out of town this week and while he was gone, I went a sleuthin'

and found, dun dun dun: a plastic grocery sack full of mis-matched socks.

He could have done a better job of hiding it from me. I suppose he thought if he

left the bag in a safe place, a place he thought I'd never look with him out of town (on

top of the dryer), it would be safe.

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It’s not enough for him to worry about lost souls. He’s got to try to save all the

lost socks too.

You see, the Pastor thinks he has finally figured out some way, some sort of

system while doing laundry, to isolate the mismatched socks. He thinks if he separated

out this batch of lonely socks from the last bout of laundry-doing, he'd be able to make it

make sense. That his little system of putting them in a bag will somehow make us be

able to find the sock-mates.

When I found the bag of lonely socks? I couldn't have laughed harder. It was

almost as though he had given me a Valentine. Almost. I don't have a Ph.D. Or a few

Master's Degrees. But this I know for sure, you will never figure it out. It is un-

understandable. The socks will never make sense. We will always and forever have a

pile of mismatched socks. This is just how the Universe works. Socks just disappear.

And on top of the Universe's natural order of things for socks, we have kids that

go back-and-forth between different houses. They do not come to our house with

matched socks on. Just like everything else in our house, even our socks are divorced

and remarried to other socks. Then when the kids leave again, they leave with one of

those pairs of preciously matched socks, and they disappear into another kind of black

hole entirely.

It'll be fun though. To watch the Pastor after the next go-round of laundry,

dumping out all the socks and enlisting the help of the kids to match them - you know,

those kids who are not wearing matched socks in the first place. You will be able to see

his blood pressure rise with each stray sock. Maybe I'd care more about this if I even

wore socks, but I don't and I never will. I won't wear anything that means I'll just have

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that much more laundry to do. I've got plenty of other cases to solve without spending

any more time on socks again, ever. And that, my little sleuths, is no mystery.

The Pastor should probably just stick to saving the lost souls.

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Pastors Say Dumb Things Too

I was still in bed and the Pastor had just left to teach his 8 a.m. class.

My phone, in the windowsill, beeped that I had a new message. I stayed in bed

for a moment fantasizing and romanticizing what the message said.

Maybe: "You are fabulous and I love you." Or maybe... "Your hair looked really

pretty yesterday." Perhaps... "Being married to you is the best thing that ever

happened to me." "I wish I was still snuggled up next to you." Or even... "Thanks for

going to eat tortilla soup and guacamole AGAIN with me last night." I'd settle for... "I'm

sorry I farted on you this morning."

So I crept out of bed and read my message.

Here it is: "Please bring me my belt".

OK, not quite what I had expected.

Once when I got my hair colored, he didn’t say anything about it. Instead, he

asked me why my eyebrows were so red.

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What am I supposed to do with my life?

After we got married and I quit my job, I noticed when the Pastor told people he

knew about it, people responded to him with things like, "that's so great!!!” In contrast,

when I told people I had quit my job it was met with, "I am really surprised you quit your

job" or, "I can't believe you did that.” Interesting contrast.

I still have that e-mail my husband sent me.

“You should give your 30 day notice and flit around with me and then spend the

rest of your time sitting in one of our bean bag chairs,” said the message from my

husband the pastor/professor/Bible scholar extraordinaire.

I know what you’re thinking. Who still has a beanbag?

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You’d think years after taking him up on this offer, I would have had time to clean

out my e-mail. I just can’t seem to let go of this one. Perhaps I want to remember that

all of this was his idea.

When I married the Pastor we had very different lives. His primary profession is

to teach and preach the Word of God. To a layperson, that means he has a lot of what

looks like free time during the day. He doesn’t have normal office hours. He spends a

lot of time “thinking.”

I, on the other hand, was a very busy and important woman. I made decent

money. I was a manager and had twenty employees. Since I was the boss, I had to get

to work before everyone else and stay after everyone left. I was the one who

reprimanded employees for improper work attire. There was no time for thinking. I also

worked on Saturdays and this thing the Pastor refers to as the “Sabbath.” Most

importantly, I got to go to Happy Hour and Sunday brunch. Oh, how I miss booze and

brunch.

Before we got married, we never talked about whether I would continue

working. I figured it was inevitable that it would come to the point where I was expected

to be the dutiful Pastor’s wife and give up my career.

At first, wide-eyed and optimistic, I looked forward to trading my office chair for

the beanbag. I had no idea what I was in for; you would not imagine the suffocating

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powers of the beanbag.

Maybe I could change the world! More importantly, I could do whatever I

wanted! Go and sit for hours at coffee shops in sweat pants and no makeup! Not so

fast! Did you know when you are married to a pastor there are – get this – parishioners

and Christians everywhere you go? I soon learned that not only could I not go

anywhere without having to talk to, act pleasant, and deal with people who knew my

husband – I was expected to look like a grown up, respectable woman all the time. This

dress code was far worse than anything a corporate human resource department might

have tried to impose on me. I was chastised for such things as leaving the house with

my shoulders showing, too much cleavage and more than once reprimanded for my

questionable eye makeup choices.

This left me with the following options: (1) go to a different city to find a coffee

shop where no one would know me; (2) wear a wig and dark glasses; (3) buy a coffee

pot.

And Happy Hour? That was reduced to drinking alone in my

basement. Cheers!

Now, Bible stuff is so deep in my sub-conscious that I am having bible scholar

dreams involving Shekemites. I don't even know what a Shekemite is. I don't even know

if I am spelling it correctly. I am not going to look it up. I've wasted too much time on

Shekemites already if I am dreaming about them.

It never ends. I have to be careful where else I am seen and what I

Facebook/tweet to the world. I had to forget about attending women’s roller derby,

midget wrestling or going to gay bars. People frown upon such activities even if they

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pose fantastic ministerial opportunities.

Sometimes I would even go places and not know I was being watched. Upon my

return home, the Pastor had already been apprised of who I was with, my shopping and

where I had eaten lunch.

Liberating, huh?

It makes a girl long for business suits, pantyhose and twelve-hour workdays.

I want that morning trip to the local coffee shop so that I can actually have other

people to talk to and interact with. Not about my husband or some sermon, but

me. Me, me, me!!! I’m a person too! At least when I worked and bossed people

around – even if they hated me - it was an emotion expressed toward me. This, I

realized, had made me feel better than being a kept woman ever would.

Take for instance this particular Sunday. My husband preached on the story

about the woman who believes if she just touches Jesus’ robe, she will be healed from

her super-long period.

Everybody just loved the sermon. The next day the Pastor and I went to work at

our church’s soup kitchen (A job perk? I can go serve lunch at the soup kitchen as

much as I want). Never mind the fact that I was the one who practically dragged him to

go with me. No one said anything of consequence to me as they moved through the

lunch line, but they were practically falling over themselves just to get to the Pastor, just

to perhaps touch him. Impressive, huh?

Not really, the man couldn’t even serve two lunch items. I had to take over one

of his spoons. The only attention I ever get at the soup kitchen is the random homeless

man who will ask me for my phone number.

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So here I am, still trying to figure out how to work for the Pastor. I just hope he

doesn’t read this. A reprimand will go in my personnel file and I can forget about getting

a raise. I’m going to go sit in the beanbag chair now. At least that’ll keep me out of

trouble.

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Breathing Through My Nose

You’d probably think I’m a mouth breather because we’ve been at an inner-city

church with homeless people. But it’s more complicated than that.

There are three types of people in the world. One: God's Elect who know when

the world is going to end. Two: those people God's Elect choose to share this

information with. Three: everyone else.

I know this because I am one of the chosen ones who received a postcard from

the Elect. Yes, a couple of weeks ago, I got a postcard in the mail from an organization

who wanted to let me know that the Mayans are wrong and Christ is coming back May

21, 2011. Thank God – no, thank my postman - that this card arrived and in a timely

fashion. The Elect wanted to share this information with me because they love me and

because for some reason I, a pastor’s wife, am on their mailing list.

remember.

They can't scare me. I've been waiting for the world to end as long as I can

I didn't prepare for Y2K. I don't have a rapture kit ready. As far as disaster

preparedness, the best I can do on any given day is I start off with clean underwear and

I keep a decent driver's license photo because everyone knows if something happens

that's the picture that will show up on television. Other than that, I no longer

contemplate the end times.

Why? I grew up in a fundamentalist church and I have the mental scars to prove

it. Here is a fun childhood memory. It was a sunny, summer day in the 1970’s. Was I

playing and having fun on my swing set in my backyard? In my tree house? No. I was

sitting on my family's picnic table with my hands neatly folded in my lap waiting for the

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world to end as someone had predicted. I figured if I was outside God could find me

easier.

I went to bed every night with a lamp on my bedside table that featured the “Now

I lay me down to sleep” prayer on it. I felt like if I didn't say that prayer every night

before I went to sleep, I, a healthy child, might inexplicably die in my sleep and not go to

heaven. Even though my brother was the bad one who had ripped my stuffed Tiger to

shreds. Surely he would go to Hell for that. (He still might.)

I remember daily asking God to come into my heart and forgive me, a middle

class white girl, of my sins, lest something happen to me at any moment I would not be

denied admittance to heaven. I remember going to church and people (my Grandma)

running up and down the aisles crying out in tongues, shouting out words I could not

understand.

I remember youth group prayers where I feared that I might accidentally move

wrong and somehow indicate I wanted to accept the gift of the Holy Spirit, while at the

same time feeling incredibly guilty that I didn't want the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is

weird because I really like presents. Most of the time I just wanted a new pair of shoes

like everyone else at my school had. Why couldn’t the Holy Spirit give those to me?

Nowadays, as a fully recovered fundamentalist I just hope that one of those

sinner’s prayers did the trick and has covered me. Plus I figure since I married a pastor

that’s got to be a get–into-heaven pass. Don’t they have to take me?

I've recently started getting acupuncture treatments for stress and anxiety.

Doesn't every stay-at-home pastor’s wife become overwhelmed with stress and anxiety

as she contemplates how to whittle away the hours of the day, waiting for the world to

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end all while not doing anything that a pastor's wife shouldn't be doing? I don’t just

have judgment day to look forward to. At any moment while here on earth I can be

caught doing any number of things not appropriate for a pastor’s wife, like wearing red

lipstick. Judgment day’s got nothing on tattling Christians.

I haven't yet decided if acupuncture is an ancient Chinese cure or an ancient

Chinese bunch of bull. Still on the fence, I have learned from Dr. Acupuncture that

there are two kinds of people in the world: nose breathers and mouth breathers. I am a

disgusting mouth breather. That’s apparently a bad thing that exacerbates

stress. Apparently my entire life, I’ve even been breathing wrong. If only I had known I

would have been praying about that too. There’s no telling what else I’ve screwed up. I

wanted to tell Dr. Acupuncture of course I stress breathe - I’ve been waiting for the

rapture my whole life! But he is Hindu (not on the mailing list) and I figured he wouldn’t

understand. So I go get acupuncture and as I lay there with needles in me I try to relax

and breathe through my nose.

Unlike my childhood, at least I no longer have to be terrified in church. Now I go

to an inner city church of a conservative denomination. In fact I am writing this during

one of my husband’s sermons. Shhhh! The white noise of the preaching is very

soothing like the acupuncture and the nose breathing and helps to open up my mind.

Sure there might be a drunken outburst or someone openly talking on their phone in

church but I don't have to worry about needing to having these messages

interpreted. The Holy Spirit is not calling.

If you are reading this after May 21, 2011, you can feel free to assume that: 1. It

didn't happen; 2. Or it did, and you weren't chosen. If you weren’t chosen, apparently

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your next hurdle is that God is going to destroy the earth on October 21, 2011. You can

get ready for that or go try acupuncture like me. Both options are probably equally

effective. Or of course, 3. It didn’t happen, the Mayans were right, and you better get

ready for Apocalypse 2012.

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The Ascetic Life

Me, live the ascetic life? Can’t say I really know anyone who is ascetic. I don’t

think we have those around here. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t even so sure what

asceticism was before I consulted dictionary.com on my iPhone. I quickly learned

asceticism is “the principles and practices of an ascetic.” Huh? I kept reading.

“Extreme self-denial and austerity.” Darn.

Extreme self-denial? If I knew the slightest thing about self-denial, I wouldn’t be

working on writing this while eating at a Mexican restaurant with an unlimited supply of

tortilla chips and salsa at my disposal. I slide the salsa closer and keep reading.

“Asceticism: The doctrine that the ascetic life releases the soul from bondage to

the body and permits union with the divine.” Anyway, I had my fill of tortilla chips, put

my research on hold and left.

Fast forward to several weeks later. The Pastor was sitting in brown, leather

recliner (another sign of our asceticism) when he put down the book he was reading

and announced he wouldn’t make a good ascetic. I replied, “huh?” because I thought

he had said he wouldn’t make a good aesthetic. And he said “ascetic, not aesthetic.”

“Huh?” (My earlier research seemed to have faded completely from my mind.) He then

went into his pastoral-professor-professional role and kindly explained to me ascetic

was giving up stuff, and aesthetic was something pretty to look at. Oh! I can at least be

aesthetic, I thought, even if asceticism is not my thing.

Then I remembered Lent. It’s all about self-denial, and I’ve given things up for

Lent before. After all I used to be Catholic (back before I married the Pastor) and

they’re big into those sorts of things. So maybe I do know something about asceticism.

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One year I gave up cursing. And yes, as a matter of fact, I do consider that

extreme self-denial. Every time I said a dirty word, I made myself recite the Lord’s

Prayer. Forty days and about a million “Our Fathers” later, I was cured (at least

temporarily) of my potty mouth.

I thought I had sort of left the Lenten obligations behind when I moved on from

the Catholic Church, but last Lent my personal spiritual advisor – the Pastor – was

suggesting I give up something. So I was talking with him about what to give up and the

usual suspects topped my list: Mexican food, or there’s always coffee. It’s not like I

have very many vices left. After all, I’m a respectable pastor’s wife!

Then the Pastor came up with a doozie of a suggestion for me. “You,” he said

from his recliner, “should give up” – are you ready for this – “nail polish!”

He actually suggested I go polish-free. Then added under his breath that he

doubted I could make it to Easter with naked toenails.

However, he did add that I could celebrate the Sabbath by painting my nails any

color I wanted.

The Pastor had, sadly (and knowingly), hit me where it would hurt the most.

It turned into a deep theological discussion between me and the Pastor. Me,

saying things like, “would it be ok to use clear polish?” And the Pastor saying things like,

“Jesus died on the cross for you and you can’t even stop painting your toenails for 40

days?”

Hey, I’m glad to be part of the Kingdom and all, but I personally think the

Kingdom is a much nicer place when you have nicely pedicured toes. Besides, what

better way to share Jesus with the world than via the international language of beauty?

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What do you mean I don’t need to take open-toed high-heeled hoes on a mission trip?

The worst part? The Pastor was right. I couldn’t even make it 40 days.

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174


Found and Lost

I don't believe the story about Adam and Eve, not for one second. I have never

met a female who liked snakes and would feel comfortable voluntarily talking to one,

much less taking it’s dietary advice.

I suppose if you are going to take dietary advice from creatures, snakes are

skinny. Maybe it wasn't just the downfall of humanity; maybe it was also the beginning

of vanity. All of that for just a piece of fruit? It was totally not worth it. I would have

needed cake with the really good buttercream frosting to make me sin.

I accepted long ago if it were up to me (or people like me) humanity wouldn't

have fallen and the human race would have died out; because I am lazy. I wouldn't

have wandered around any garden with snakes in it, and no way would I have

wandered around anywhere for 40 years like the Israelites. If someone had asked me

to spy on the Promised Land, I would have said, "there's no need to make two trips. I'm

sure it's a nice place. Let's just go. The faster we get there, the faster we can rest."

I wandered around in the wilderness for what seemed like forty years once, so I

can relate to those people in the Bible. I'm sure there was some wife on that desert trip

who felt just like I did when my husband the Pastor got us lost on our European

vacation:

Note to self: the next time he asks, "do you want to go to the gift shop or do you

want to go for a walk in the woods around the castle?" - always chose the gift shop.

Oh, and remember when he says, "walk" that's really his secret code word for

"hike." He will make it sound like a nice, romantic walk, but you will end up climbing 800

feet on a rope ladder while wearing flip flops to see a ceremonial cave you could care

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less about. Or even worse, there might be snakes or lizards.

Is it not enough that you agreed to backpack across this country? Does he not

realize how many sacrifices you have made? All the packing involved. No wardrobe

choices. No cute outfits. No flat iron and one pair of ugly walking shoes. All I wanted

to do was see the pretty Cinderella castle, but now we are wandering around the

woods, lost in a foreign country and for once the human GPS doesn't know how to get

us out of here. Of course it started raining and while I slept on a train and didn't get a

shower again it wasn’t at all cleansing and refreshing.

He has no idea how terrified I am. I'm not scared of being lost, but of the lizards

and the snakes. Every few feet, ok I know I am here on the metric system but I can't do

the conversion right now so let's just say every few steps, something runs or slithers

across the path and I quietly want to die.

Sure I am bigger than them - the ones I can see anyway. Who knows what's out

there that I can't see. And, yes I know they are more afraid of me - but I have on these

very ugly open-toed shoes and I hate snakes and lizards.

He is ahead of me on the path, forging the way, trying to figure out how he is

going to get us out of here and back to the castle. He thinks I am being quiet and sweet

and supportive and non-judgmental. A good little hiker! Little does he know. This is

some vacation.

The Pastor found our way out of that forest, but this isn't the only time he has

gotten me lost in the wilderness. Before he came along, I went to church. I was a good

little Christian girl. Not only did I know where my Bible was, I read it and I believed in

heaven. I was found.

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But then he led me through the woods until I was lost. The guy who is

responsible for teaching and preaching The Word taught the one person closest to him

to disbelieve. I unlearned everything I thought I knew about God. Everything I had

learned on those felt boards in Sunday School. No sea parted. No one turned into a

pillar of salt. No one got burned. Turns out, it's all literature! If I'm going to believe in

literature, I think I'll stick with Harry Potter or those vampire books. Those vampires are

sexier than Jesus.

Not only is my Bible lost, so am I.

This much I know about God, if you tick her off you will end up wandering around

for 40 years not accomplishing anything. If you don't tick God off, you may end up

wandering around with no purpose anyway, just with better shopping and restaurant

choices. If you talk to snakes, you'll end up getting the curse of pain in childbirth.

This much I know about the Pastor : if you stick with him he may get you lost in

the woods and upset your entire belief system, but you still got to go to Europe and if

you bring your own snacks, there's no way you'll be tempted by a piece of fruit.

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178


Dating the Pastor

The Pastor and I try to keep things fresh.

Perhaps the only benefit of his divorce is, without his children every other week,

we have plenty of time to date each other. We try to have fun, but it’s not always easy.

There’s lots of “Sparkling Cider” involved.

Pastor?

Once we went out for New Year’s Eve. That’s perfectly ok, isn’t it? Even for a

We went to a show. The problem was that the show happened to be at a casino,

which we were pretty sure was a no-no for the Pastor. Fortunately, the casino was

hosting a “Big Easy” night, so we went in disguise.

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Date Night/Everything Tight/Check Fright/Strawberry Cake Just Right

I refuse to say I am fat. While typing this, I am wearing a size small shirt and

jeans that are in the single digits. I refuse to beat myself up. In part, because that would

be exercise.

I will, however, say that my clothes are skinny.

I had a date with the Pastor last night, and I was trying to psych myself up. It's

not that I didn't want to go out with him; it's just that I seem to be in a funk.

I put on my false eyelashes. I hated all my clothes and thought it might cheer me

up if I got something new to wear. Besides, I've been really good and I knew the Pastor

wouldn't say anything if I went shopping.

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We have a new outlet mall. I want it to do well. I want to like it. I really like a

couple of the stores, but I kind of hate going there. It seems like everyone who shops

there? Is incredibly stupid. This coming from a woman who now routinely shops at

Goodwill. The Pastor has finally converted me. I think it says a lot that the people at

Goodwill annoy me less than the people at the outlet mall.

I wanted some fabulous retro circle skirted 1950's cocktail dress. You know, the

1950's, when women still had hips. Needless to say, the outlet mall didn't have the look

I wanted. Why is everything made for stick straight people? Am I the only curvy girl out

there? The Kardashian's are everywhere - and those girls have booties! How is it

possible that they can be on the cover of every magazine, yet not have made an impact

on the design of clothes? This would mean the Kardashian's have really served no

purpose.

I gave up on the mall and went home where I proceeded to have the parade of

the closet. I was too embarrassed to even photograph my looks and send them to any

friends.

The first look I tried on included a floral bubble skirt, a silver sequined tank and a

purple cardi with silver trim. I looked like a bag lady who had raided a dumpster behind

The Loft, or to give you an even better visual - imagine what the librarian at a LGBTQI

library would wear.

The next look included a short black full skirt and a black sequined top. I looked

like a sad, old ice dancer.

frump-tastic.

I gave up and put on a sweater dress I’ve worn a million times before. I felt

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I was glad the Pastor wasn't home to see me pull my boots over my calves. If

you ever want to question the size of your calves, go buy a pair of boots. I have never

thought, "I have abnormally large calves." I don't believe I do. But there is nothing like

putting on boots that will make you think, "What is wrong with my hideous, misshapen

legs?"

We had a nice dinner out. We went to a restaurant we'd not been to before.

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The Pastor ordered a special. Here's the thing about the specials at a fancy

restaurant. They don't tell you how much they cost, and you don't ask because you are

at a fancy restaurant. His special involved steak and shrimp.

Once the check came and for once the Pastor's meal cost more than mine, I

knew the date was over. Then I got to listen to how much food costs and how hard the

Pastor works (he does) and the value of a dollar and how he would have been just as

happy with a $5 hamburger.

It went from hot date to conversation with a depression-era grandpa, just like

that. This turn of events made me glad I hadn't added to the expense of the date with

fashion.

Oh and by the way, I didn't care about my skinny clothes, that I had thought that

maybe I should wear tights and spanx (sexy date undergarment combo), or how much it

cost. I thought about having fun - and fun for me meant getting the strawberry cake. It

was delicious. I expect me and that cake will have another date soon, whether I find that

perfect cocktail dress or not. As for the Pastor, you'll probably find him wherever $5

hamburgers are sold.

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Lingerie Store

With a gift card in hand and a looming anniversary weekend at a bed and

breakfast, I found myself at the lingerie store. Not that the gift card matters, because

my normally budget-conscious husband told me years ago I have unlimited funds for

lingerie. Don’t all pastors’ wives?

I spent too much time at the store. I'd pick something up, look at it and think,

"Will the Pastor like this?" I agonized over what he would he pick.

What would he say if he was there? That's easy. He'd say, "just get them all and

return what you don’t like!” Or, "I don't care, get whatever you want!" and then he’d go

sit in one of those big comfy chairs in a lounge area at the mall and play with his

iPhone.

That's not helpful. I like the yellow cotton mermaid print thing. Is that sexy?

Then I started thinking the store was making my butt look big. Like Alice-in-

Wonderland, I must have eaten cake that made me big and everything else miniature. I

do like cake.

After examining a size tag (that's a large?), I backed out of the store and made

sure I wasn't someplace meant for infants and toddlers. Much to my dismay, I wasn’t.

I began to fear I would soon be crossing over from the lingerie store into the

muumuu store. Was this another female right-of-passage my mother hadn’t told me

about?

I wanted to feel sexy and pretty, and instead had worked myself into an

emotional frenzy. I convinced myself if – if only - I find the right garment, the Pastor will

understand me, the planets will align, the heavens will open up, a hallelujah chorus will

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ing out and there will be peace on earth.

This is a lot of pressure to put on mermaid-print cotton and swatches of silk. I

leave the store knowing the sad truth. What the Pastor thinks is sexy is living on a

budget, buying used and investing the difference. I do the laundry - I cannot imagine

anything grosser than someone else’s used underwear. Besides, my husband is so

absent-minded, there’s no way he’ll remember if I wear something I already have.

Our anniversary weekend came and went. I spent most of my time at the B&B in

a fluffy white robe that belonged to the room. Good thing I saved my money, because I

am going back to the mall tomorrow and I can spend it all at my favorite non-panty

stores. I can always pick up a muumuu at a thrift store.

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I thought they were gorgeous.

Pride Goeth Before Destruction

Turquoise silk, trimmed with red lace. Matching bra.

And not to brag, but I've been on the Wii fit everyday and I have completed

nearly two whole workouts in the Slim in 6 fitness program.

I thought I was looking pretty good. So I pranced my fancy pants into the other

room to show the Pastor.

"Those aren't my favorite,” said the man who's not bought a new pair of

underwear in six years.

Perhaps the Pastor should skip over to Chapter 17 of that Proverbs book. He

who loves a quarrel loves sin.

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Happy Anniversary

How to have the perfect one-year anniversary

1. Get your hair done

2. Go to Victoria's Secret

On the way to dinner at nice, expensive Japanese restaurant, the Pastor's phone

rang. It was Discover Card. Wanting to make sure he is aware that the charge card was

used for two large purchases... at a hair salon and at Victoria's Secret. Is he aware of

these charges???

Thanks for ratting me out Discover Card!

Is this some kind of special card member service the Pastor subscribes to? One

of those optional plans they are always trying to sell you? For $2 a month, he can

receive an informative phone call letting him know when and where his wife has used

the card?

The thing that makes me the most angry is that I was been gender profiled. This

is discrimination! Just because charges are at a hair salon and a retail store, then

somebody must be up to no good, huh? I oughta sue.

Doomsday Prep

“What made you want to make out after watching the Doomsday preparation

show, Pastor??

“I can’t tell you.”

“Sure you can.”

“I was bored. See? I couldn’t tell you that!”

“Sure you could tell me, but should you tell me? Probably not.”

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Utopia

OK, I'll admit it. When I'm out and about amongst other humans, I feel an

immense amount of hatred. I think that most people are obnoxious idiots and need to

put down their cell phones, shut up and pay attention. And my definition of a brat? Any

child I did not personally give birth to. The world could be a perfect place, if the rest of

the human race besides a chosen few and me were taken away by rapture or a zombie

apocalypse.

The notion of utopia always scared me. I grew up in the 1970's and the only thing

I knew about a perfect society was what I'd seen in bad sci-fi movies. Whatever utopia

was, everyone old would be killed off and everyone left would have to wear matching

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silver jumpsuits. I never much worried about which group I'd be in, but the thought of not

being able to choose my own clothes? That was terrifying. Now that I have passed an

age that would secure me a spot as one of the young people allowed to live, this sci-fi

notion of perfection is even more frightening.

Like that many dumb young people would be able to sustain a society. Have you

seen how these young people can't count your change back to you and think they are

too good to leave a voice mail? They deserve to be attacked by zombies.

Until that zombie apocalypse that leaves me in charge happens, should I search

for my own utopia? From an outsider's perspective, I suppose my life couldn't look more

ideal. I eat cookies that cost as much as it does to feed an African child for three weeks.

I have paid others to laser me, wax my girly parts and cut my toenails. I could not be

more removed from my food. Where it comes from, who grew it, who cooked it - it's all a

mystery to me. I just show up, order and eat. I'm only terribly inconvenienced when I

have to reheat my own leftovers.

Since I married the Pastor, one of the many perks is that I've gotten to see the

world as we are often away on the traveling preaching and teaching rodeo. I've stayed

in roughly a jillion different hotels where I manage the Pastor and throw towels on the

floor. You should see how mad I get when they don't have good wireless Internet or a

coffee shop. If there were a better place out there, I would have seen it.

I found myself at the end of the year looking back through my photos of

everything I'd done. I saw the food I'd eaten and the places I'd been. I didn't feel good

about it, not one bit. I felt like a huge, gluttonous pig. So big that I'd never fit into one of

the silver jumpsuits of the future human race. I had good pictures of moments, but in my

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heart I knew it had been one of the worst years of my life. I realize I have no perspective

here. I'm not a starving, aids-sickened African orphan, but still it was a terrible year for

me. The baby I'd lost, the months my husband was away on a fellowship and I wasn't

sure our marriage would make it, the writer's block I'd suffered, teaching a teenager to

drive, the 15 pounds I'd gained blah blah blah. I feel like a terrible person for even

writing these things, because I know what I considered to be a horrible year would have

been someone else's utopia.

I have it all, but I haven't been in a good place at all.

If there's anything I've learned, it's that maybe I've got it all wrong. Maybe the

answers to the good life don't exist in cookies and shoes and nail polish and an endless

supply of fancy panties and false eyelashes. Maybe I'd be happier living in a mud hut

amongst African orphans, or forced to wear a lone, silver jumpsuit.

Even my resolve to change and be a better person seems totally lame. "I'm going

to stop buying new clothes." This is a problem of affluence, while someone in India has

cancer from the chemicals used to make textiles. Or someone in Cambodia has worked

long days in a sweatshop so that I can wear something trendy for one season.

Still, I promise. I'm going to try to be a different person. I'm going to do my part to

make the world a better place. I'm going to try to hate others less. Now seems as good

a time as any for jumping off into a different life. I'm no longer scared of what utopia is,

even if I end up in a silver jumpsuit, a mud hut or in a mud hut wearing a silver jumpsuit.

It might be easy to lose those 15 pounds in a mud hut far removed from cookies, and in

the African sun I wouldn't have to worry about a spray tan. I just hope the orphans aren't

too bratty.

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And they lived happily ever after.

Sort of.

The End

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