Monday, August 30, 2010

I'm a frequent reader over at a blog called Beauty Tips for Ministers. Its author PeaceBang offers this challenge to the use of the term "little old lady" especially among church professionals.

I admit I have been using this phrase since I was just a little kid, having grown up in a parsonage family. We did it for a lot of reasons, but most of them had everything to do with why PeaceBang finds such language totally offensive. It is true that our family was sometimes terrorized by women in their later years who seemed, by my young estimation, bent on making our lives difficult.
Now that I'm a older, a little wiser, and now in the pastoral role myself, I can acknowledge that much of the behavior we disliked about them so much was indeed a grasping for a little control and power in a stage of life where they were so easily dismissed by so many.

As a young woman who proudly claims a feminist point of view, one of my greatest frustrations has been how often the discrimination I have faced in ministry has come from other women. It is a jarring look in the mirror to acknowledge that my use of the phrase "Little Old Lady" is a blatant participation in the diminishing of women's power, intelligence, and voice.
Not only that, I realize it robs me of the opportunity to get to know them as people. I have been amazed by the stories of a couple of the older women I've gotten to know already in my ministry. Some were in the forefront of women's rights in my own denomination. Others have raised multiple generations of family, and all of them have much to say, much to teach, and deserve a pastor who encounters them as a person.

I cannot promise that I will have endless patience with every older woman I serve. I won't promise not to be annoyed when I receive unsolicited opinions about whether or not my son should still be using a pacifier, but I certainly acknowledge that "Little Old Lady" is every bit as offensive as calling a woman a B****, or The Little Wife, or any of the other terms so often used to silence women, and I will strike it from my vocabulary. Will you?

(The photo here is a sample photo from, I do not know the woman pictured or the photographer who took the photo.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Balancing act

The last month of our lives has been one of major transition. We have moved from the suburbs of Chicago back to Wichita. We've moved into a new rental home,and begun the long process of figuring out what life after school really looks like.
I already feel like I'm in a near-perfect placement as the associate pastor in a large, thriving church. I'm fortunate that with a large staff, I've been able to spend the last month "getting a feel for things" asking questions and watching the daily, weekly and now monthly rhythms of ministry in my particular setting. I'm keenly aware that if I were the sole pastor somewhere, I'd have to dive in a bit faster.
As I have been trying to figure out where I fit into the rhythm of work here at church, PreacherDad and I have been trying to figure out what the rhythms of our home life will look like. His schedule as a chaplain resident is a set 8-5 M-F plus at least one 12 hour on call shift each week. (this should be the same night most weeks, but may move from time to time.)

Being a preacher means that Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings baby J will be in the church nursery. So, we're trying to work my schedule so that including those times, James is in childcare less than 40 hours a week. (30 hours/week would be my ideal situation)

Since PreacherDad's schedule is set by someone else, I'm really feeling the weight of finding a schedule that puts me at work enough to be available, useful and productive but that also allows me to spend some time with J during some of his waking hours. I still believe it is possible and necessary to set healthy family life patterns as a pastor, but I am beginning to grasp just how tough it is going to be.

In the meantime,right on the heels of this article, PreacherDad and I are sending baby J off to his grandma's for a week and heading to Sunny Southern California for a much needed vacation this week.
We are celebrating 5 years of marriage, survival of a major medical event, two seminary degrees and a beautiful little boy, and doing our part to reduce clergy burnout one sunny california day at a time!