And Coming...

"She-Bear in the Beautiful Garden" is an allegory for children of all ages, written and illustrated by Ellen Gillette. Order from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at

Monday, October 25, 2010

Oct. 25 Stuff Middle-aged Christian Mothers Don't Like

Christians are notorious for taking themselves too seriously, so I would encourage you to check out Jonathan Acuff's bestseller Stuff Christians Like. Here's what his website ( ) has to say:

Sometimes, we fall in love on mission trips even though we know we’ll break up when we get back.
Sometimes, you have to shot block a friend’s prayer because she’s asking God to bless an obviously bad dating relationship.
Sometimes, you think, “I wish I had a t-shirt that said ‘I direct deposit my tithe’ so people wouldn’t judge me.”
Sometimes, the stuff that comes with faith is funny. This is that stuff.

Jonathan Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like is your field guide to all things Christian. Like a satirical grenade, Acuff brings us the humor and honesty that galvanized 730,000 online readers from 209 countries in a new portable version. Welcome to the funny side of faith.

His website gives info on the book and upcoming speaking engagements, as well as his blogs. Not only is Acuff relevant and funny (and nice looking), he is an avid blogger. I blog once every two weeks. He apparently blogs every two minutes. And in between blogs, he's on Twitter: . Acuff is also relatively young to be so gynomormously successful; after meeting Jon and his mother at the Dave Ramsey Live event held in Raleigh, NC on October 16, I'm pretty sure his mother deserves some of the credit.

Despite this sounding, thus far, like one more puff piece for the current "in" celeb, I felt compelled to write because...I can hardly believe it myself...little ole' me is the subject not only of one of Jonathan Acuff's tweats, but a blog as well. Are you impressed?

When the incident in question occurred, he was so taken aback he mentioned posting something on Twitter, but since I don't tweet, how would I know? Today, though, I thought I'd check itout. Just in case. And whaddaya know...

I'm the only author who had a book returned cause the autograph wasn't good enough. What did I write? via web
The link takes you back to the blog, #877 to be exact: Awkward Prayer Moments. You can read it for yourself, but he relates fairly accurately what happened. (Spoiler alert for two of my kids: if you're reading this, you now know I've bought you a copy of Stuff Christians Like for your upcoming birthdays. Hope you enjoy it!)

Frankly, I'm still reeling from the fact that Acuff calls me a "woman in her 50s." So he got the age range right...couldn't he have said something instead like "an attractive, intelligent-looking woman aging extremely well"? Something a little less bland?

Acuff signed the first book "Your mom is awesome." I was appropriately charmed, figuring he'd write the same thing for the second one, but no, he decided to bump the Clever up a notch: "Your mom told me you're her favorite." He handed it to me, perhaps surprised I didn't gush my thanks. I turned and walked away, getting about ten steps before I realized I just couldn't do it. I couldn't.

I didn't think he would mind (being gynormously successful) but I also didn't expect to become the Poster Child for families in need of prayer. I suppose it could be worse, though. And my family does indeed need prayer (as does his and yours and all God's children's) .

When I told him I couldn't give the book with that inscription, he made a joke about praying for family peace. He seemed to assume that the reason I returned the book was because it might start a ruckus among the siblings, which wasn't even close. I did manage to tell him I hoped he'd come across another buyer wanting the same name written in the inscription; he heartily agreed. (Although, in the blog, he mentions keeping it around to prevent him getting "too big for (his) britches.")

Acuff's blog expresses remorse offended me, which I appreciate. I wasn't so much offended as I was sure that what he had written was inappropriate. Maybe not for some families, but for mine. I wanted to explain to him why, but could feel emotion rising--there's not much more emotional than a woman in their 50s, but he might not realize that yet. There was a crowd, he was busy, the idea was to sell books, etc.

I would have liked to tell him, though, so now I will:

I have four children, not two, all of whom I love very much. Each one, in many and unique ways, has brought joy to my heart. Each has made me, on innumerable occasions, thankful to be his mom, her mom. My oldest son is a police officer, putting himself in harm's way for the good of his community. My oldest daughter is a single mother with challenging health issues who has blessed us with two incredible live-in grandkids. My youngest daughter is a veteran, army wife, currently back in college and a terrific wife and mother to our youngest grandchild. My youngest son died ten years ago after a car accident at the age of sixteen, and I miss him so much. Every day.

Would you want to take it upon yourself to decide which of those kids is my favorite? I think not.

Acuff meant nothing by his comment...judging from the line at his book table, he'd probably written the same thing many times already that day...but words do mean something. Always. I wasn't willing to hurt...even in of my children just because a writer whom I do not know and who does not know me or my children or our particular stories, joys, and heartaches was trying to be cute. My kids are worth more than that.

I, love, love... humor, satire, wit, parody, comedy. I can LOL with the best of 'em. And Acuff is genuinely funny. I heartily endorse him, wish him (and his commenters who think I have no sense of humor) well, very well indeed. I pray God's gynormous-est blessings on all things Acuff. Buy his book, follow him on Twitter, read his blogs.

And if you want an autograph from someone who inspired one...just let me know.

This blog is a ministry of Crossroads Church in Lillington, NC but don't blame them for it! Permission to reprint with acknowledgement of source.

Monday, October 11, 2010

October 11 When the Pastor's Happy, Everybody's Happy

*Note – While I realize that there are many, many female pastors, my own pastor is male, and it becomes awkward to continually write (or read) “he (or she)” for the sake of inclusiveness. I have chosen to use “he”. My apologies to the offended.

When you think of October, you may immediately conjure up visions of pumpkins and trick or treating. I am not a fan of Halloween, with the emphasis on death and fear and greed, but there are aspects of it I have learned to tolerate for the sake of grandkids and church traditions. In a few weeks, I will dress in costume and man the registration table at Crossroads Church’s annual Fall Festival and have just as good a time as anyone…but don’t come to my house for candy on the 31st because there won’t be any (granted, living a mile off the hard road makes this a more socially acceptable choice).

October is also, since 1994 (when Focus on the Family took the idea and ran with it) National Clergy Appreciation Month. If you need help coming up with ideas of how you can show your pastor that you appreciate him I’d be surprised, but there are several websites that give tips such as letters, card showers, covered dish dinners, flowers, etc.

Like other Hallmark-type holidays, it would be easy to substitute a yearly acknowledgement (e.g. Mother’s Day) for consistent, regular appreciate for those who serve. Better yet, do both! When the pastor’s message hits home, let him know. Take him out to dinner once in awhile. Make an appointment when you need to talk, rather than assuming he will be at your beck and call. Tell him “thank you.” AND during October find a way to creatively express that ongoing appreciation, which if you’ve been appreciative throughout the year, will be like the proverbial icing on the cake.

Focus on the Family believes that Paul actually had the idea of Pastor Appreciation:

“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double
honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy

“Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard
among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in
the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each
other.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).

“Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor” ( Romans 13:7).

As a congregant, I like what the writer of Hebrews had to say:“Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (13:17).

Not every pastor is as knowledgeable, articulate, humorous, caring, and creative as mine (Ken Dalton! at Crossroads Church in Lillington, North Carolina! with his lovely and talented wife Vanessa!) but few pastors go into that line of work because of the benefits. Like doctors, they are always “on call.” Like teachers, there are hours of preparation behind the scene. Like members of your family, they are available to reach out to people at their greatest times of need or rejoicing. Like celebrities and politicians, their lives take on a fishbowl quality, with hundreds of people watching…not only to see the pastor and his family model the Christian life…but to see how they do not. It wouldn’t be the most comfortable way to live, the cushiest job.

I think it’s safe to say that the majority of ministers, pastors, clergy, whatever you want to call them. are where they are because of a fundamental belief that (1) God has called them to the task, and (2) they can make a difference in people’s lives and for the Kingdom of God.

Note my italics in that Hebrews passage – the work of church leadership should be joyful to them, which in turn, is an advantage to the rest of us. Honoring our leaders is like doing ourselves a favor!

Finally, a special word to those in the minority, whose leaders are manipulative, dishonest, or predatory: There is a respect for the position, if not the person, that is appropriate… right up until the time a congregation can successfully vote him out (or have him arrested, as the case may be). As someone who has sat under such authority, I feel your pain …and would remind you that there are always avenues of change: scriptural communication to resolve problems, secular law enforcement, whatever is called for…and if those don’t work, you can always walk out the door. Find another church- odds are, you’ll find a pastor who embodies the word and preaches the Word.

Permission to use with acknowledgement of source.