Sunday, April 26, 2009

Journal of a Living Lady #346
Nancy White Kelly

In the Baptist faith, we call our spiritual leaders pastors. In other denominations, an equivalent would be priest or rector. In the Jewish community, the chief leader is the rabbi, and in the Moslem world that would be the Imam.

I have great respect for those who choose or are chosen to give spiritual direction to a congregation of believers. Come June I will have had twelve pastors in my lifetime. An even dozen.

I worked on staff with some of my pastors. While none of them was perfect, all were sincere and each one has had a significant impact on my life. I have loved all my spiritual shepherds and believe that this devotion is mutual.

One pastor indulged my request to be baptized again. He did so with water from the Jordan River that was brought back in a small jar by a friend who had recently visited the Holy Land. Later, thanks to a reader who follows this column, Buddy and I had the opportunity to be fully immersed in the Jordan River near Jerusalem which is where John the Baptist baptized Jesus.

A third of my former pastors have passed on to their deserved reward. I still hear from a few. Occasionally one will ask me to consider working with them again. But, unless God writes it on the wall, I am not leaving the mountains until I make my own trip to Glory.

As a teen-age girl, I purposed to follow Christ and his teachings for the rest of my natural life and have never regretted that decision. My pastors played an important role. Each man was memorable. They embraced myriad personalities and styles, ranging from high-strung, hell, fire, and brimstone types to low-key, brotherly or fatherly surrogates who quietly delivered compelling messages of unconditional love.

I often wonder where I would be today without the impact of these pastors. I think I could be a criminal. Without the moral compass of the Bible, I would have no reason to constrain my thoughts or actions. And who could be more responsible for indelibly imprinting biblical principles than my former pastors?

Saying “good-byes” are hard, but a routine part of life. My current pastor is retiring soon after a long ministry and I will miss him. A new senior pastor, whom I knew in what seems like a life-time ago, will join the long line of those who came before. I knew this pastor-to-be mostly through his wife and daughters. Sharon taught music and I was Shannon and Melody’s school principal. We felt a great loss when the Pickerills moved away.

So often we pass through life without giving proper thanks to those who have touched us so. To Brother Rudy Patton and to all my other pastors, I thank you from the depths of my soul for helping me to be a better person than I might have been.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Journal of a Living Lady #345

Nancy White Kelly

I wiped tears from a fallen warrior and stood in the gap, protecting the wounded one from further injury. To my surprise, recovery was immediate. The two who were engaged in brotherly combat were soon sharing their cookies with each other and their favorite stuffed animals, Lambie and Bear.

Yes, Buddy and I have been baby-sitting. Charlie and Tori took advantage of the Spring Break and headed to Minneapolis, leaving each set of grandparents to take turns filling their shoes. We performed admirably considering the oldest, Micah, age four, had strep throat. He was unusually quiet and preferred my lap to his toys. Two-year old Noah, a vocal live-wire, was a non-stop dynamo.

In spite of the fact Buddy and I have raised a dozen children, birth, adopted, and foster, we felt a little inept. We quickly learned that in those ensuing years since parenting youngsters ourselves, a slow leak has occurred in our energy supply.

That first day of our baby-sitting stint we had a couple of hours of welcomed sunshine. The boys and I took a trek into the near-by woods. They walked the fallen logs and I watched for snakes.
Then the weather turned horrendously windy and cold. From then on, we were housebound. The television went on the blink leaving the boys with no cartoons or news for Buddy and me.

Thankfully an ancient repertoire of kiddie songs, poems and stories returned to my sluggish memory. Micah, Noah and I played hide-and-seek, built domino towers, fished cards with a little suction cup on a pole and blew hundreds of soapy bubbles into the bathroom sink. Buddy was good for short spurts of entertainment, but primarily worked on the Charlie’s lawn-mower. He is far more comfortable with mechanics than little children.

It became quite clear why Charlie and Tori consider seven o’clock p.m. their favorite time on the clock. It is the beginning of the boys’ bedtime ritual. Baths. Stories. Songs and finally prayers, theirs’ and then mine: “Dear God, now I lay these children down to sleep. Please keep them in bed without a peep. Amen.”

I was overly optimistic when I packed for this baby-sitting gig. I brought along my laptop computer and some books to study in preparation for teaching Sunday school. What was I thinking? By the time the magic hour arrived in the early evening, I was more tired than the children. Who could concentrate when every adult-level brain cell had shut down from inactivity? I foolishly procrastinated with a silent promise. Tomorrow I’ll study, but a tomorrow, with time to spare, never came.

We survived our days with the grandchildren without any major incident. Unfortunately Buddy and I are now sick ourselves. Our grown kids got a needed break and we will recover. It's hard to not want to be part of this stage of our grandsons' lives. Before we blink they will be teenagers.