Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Thanks to the family that lived here before us, the entire neighborhood knew before we moved in that Matt's a pastor, making me "the pastor's wife." I actually look forward to new neighbors coming in that don't know our real identities. (Sorta feels like the Incredibles.) You're not allowed to raise your voice at one another while outside, or be too gruff with the toddler, or listen to anything but satellite hymns-r-us radio... not that I would do anything other than that. LOL A very nice lady and her two little girls stopped by selling raffle tickets. I try to buy something from all the little entrepreneurs to make a connection with them (except magazines, NO MORE MAGAZINES!!). Then the mom engages me, "We haven't met. I live at that house, yadda, yadda, yadda... so you're a pastor's wife?" And I wanted to say, "You know, it's really none of your !@$^%! business!" I'm giggling as I write this because I'm having visions of my supressed altar-ego on the loose! This is why I don't drink, people! You WANT me surpressed. Being back in the Midwest brings with it an increased percentage of protestants. With that increased demographic comes an increased number of impressions and expectations of said pastor's wives because of increased exposure. Not to mention my own memories of the "pastor's wife" from my childhood years aren't fond or fuzzy. So I get this twitch in my left eye at the very term. ("Jaws" theme in background.) I smile, grit my teeth and say, "Yes, that's right." Remember, I swore that I'd never marry a pastor. Enter Matthew, stage left.

You know, I put my huge maternity shorts on one leg at a time, and I like to listen to the latest R and B music. I have a problem with wicked thoughts sometimes, and must restrain myself while disciplining my son. I bite my tongue when I stub my toe though I think a variety of descriptive words, and I don't drink because I don't want to, not because it's been put upon me. I get grouchy in the evenings and whine when I'm tired. What you may think a pastor's home is like and the reality of it may be two different things, but it's not my job to try to re-establish people's preconceived notions of the "parsonage." It's also not my job to play the piano and lead Sunday school (a hearkening back to the earlier model of the "wife".) My main job right now is primarily taking great care of my husband, who happens to be the pastor, our children, and protecting my home, just like any other wife would. So there. LOL And I want friends and relationships like any other woman, preferrably not based on what my husband does or doesn't do.

So as for my not-so-secret identity, well, that's mostly between me and God. Btw, Lord, you're funny. Real funny.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Out of Practice

I've noticed something about myself since becoming a stay-at-home mom (SAHM). Being a good listener doesn't come as easily to me as it used to. Any other moms out there feel it too? I find myself exhibiting, in my opinion, very poor skills. My freshman year in college I was hanging out with an upper classman that I really admired. We were sitting in front of the dining hall one evening talking. At one point he looked straight at me and said, "Heidi, you're a bad listener." I about died, but the more I grew (matured), and the more I learned about the ebb and flow of communication, the more I saw he was pretty much right. Heck, I even took a class in college, Interpersonal Communication, to teach me what good listening was. I got an "A", but lately I'd give myself a C at best.

For me, being the listener takes discipline. Areas where I know I struggle: good eye contact and body position, not interrupting or talking over the speaker, asking good follow-up questions, not daydreaming about what I'm going to say next, and sometimes just plain staying interested in what's being said. When I initiate the subject then chances are I care about the topic enough to stay engaged, but when it begins to drift another direction it takes effort for me to focus. Perhaps it's because I travel in more unfamiliar territory now with people I don't have conversational history with. So much of establishing new friendships is about getting information needed in order to ask better questions, the heart questions. I think A LOT of it has to do with my daily interfacing with my little ones. They're not conversational geniuses yet, so I'm sloppy, and a bit unprepared when interacting with grown-ups. Big people have different needs than little people, and those needs pull on different muscles in me. Needing to do more listening than sharing also triggers different feelings in me too: Am I being heard? Am I understood? Am I liked because I am or am not understood? Good listeners are such an inspiration to me. They hear the underlying feelings and address them, sometimes very directly. I like to be concise with information, so a lot of times I leave out the feelings in the conversation to save on time. But good listeners come back around and say, "You're a good mom." "You're a good friend." "You can survive this period of time." "You're not screwing up." What a blessing it is to be heard. What skill it takes to be a good listener. (BTW, my husband is a really great listener.)

I've been in and out of the book of James lately. The quintessential book on controlling the tongue. A book that's easy to read, but hard to hear. Maybe that's why I keep putting it down and re-reading it over again the next day. I've got to get back in practice, get those muscles back, and take listening seriously again.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Correction: It comes in fours.

I took delivery on our new fridge last weekend. You guessed it, the old one was gasping, and rather than lose $100 of food, I struck first. Found a great appliance company in up in Zion, family-owned, Lucy's Appliances. Just fantastic people. And since my other three appliance should be going on the fritz I'll keep their number in speed-dial. Let's hope when the stove dies it doesn't burn down my kitchen...

We got word Monday that friends of ours back in Hamburg are being put through the mill. John, the youth pastor, and Becci have been friends of Matt's since he was a junior high-er. In fact, he was Matt's youth pastor. They have four kids. Ariel, the second born, was in an ATV accident, Mercy-flighted to Children's Hospital where they determined she broke a leg and dislocated her wrist. She was complaining of stomach pain (never good), and they found she tore her aorta. She was in surgery from 1-630 a.m. and it was worse than they initially thought. They had to graft part of the aorta, she lost a lot of blood, but was stable last I heard. Being far away when friends are walking through deep water is really hard. The blessing of just being present is such a gift (to the ones who chose to be present and the ones struggling). If thoughts and prayers count, then they're never truly far away at all.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Gardening and Prayer

So I don't forget, I will tell you about how gardening has become a time of mediation for me. I'm sure it doesn't take rocket scientist to figure out that when you're kneeling with your eyes down you see precious little of the world around you. Normally this doesn't directly lead me to a prayerful heart. Three, maybe four springtimes ago I was putting in annuals around my back door. It had been brought to my attention (by my MIL) that you can't just dig a whole and plop a flower in it. The ground needs to be "cultivated." Ah. See? I had no idea. She showed me how you get a shovel and work the entire area to maximize the soil's effectiveness, and then you use a fertilizer or hummus, etc... This seemed like a lot of energy for a little plunk of a plant, but okay, if you say so... The next day I was kneeling at the back step, working at removing the weeds from the turned-up soil, and the phone rang. It was Matt with a devastating prayer request. A young family, who had just retired from the military, had moved to our town to be near their best friends; actually, they were neighbors. They had been in town perhaps a month. That afternoon the youngest boy wandered off for only a moment, I believe he was 1-1/2 years. When they found him he was face down in a shallow, decorative pond, unresponsive. The best-friend mom began CPR, rescuers were called, he was raced to the hospital and placed on life-support. This was the call. And I was stunned. Normally this information didn't disrupt me much since I was an ICU nurse and not a mom at the time, but I was absolutely sickened. How could God allow this?! It was boggling to think of how new they were, no family, only loosely known at our church, how could this happen?!? I was still on my knees in the dirt. At that moment, I began to dig and weed and cry out to the Lord with a voice I'd never used before. I think it was the Mother-heart that God was beginning to create in me. I sobbed and groaned, and really lost my dignity there in my backyard. Mud smeared on my face, nose running, I told God that He MUST save that little boy. That I had not told Him what to do in critical circumstances before this, so just this once I was asking for a real miracle. That other situations I could accept, but not this one. That this was unjust. That this was wrong. That this was very un-God. And I begged with all my heart that the little boy would be made whole.

The outcome was the worst you can imagine. And a family experienced a grief that I think I would absolutely die from.

The next Spring I was out on a sunny day, shovel in hand, gloves on, turning up soil. And for some reason, the smell of the ground, the kneeling for weeds, rubbing my hands in the dirt, I was abruptly taken back to the year before. And again, my heart cried out for this young family. They had weathered the first year of loss. They had stayed in tact and even become active in the grief support group at church. And they were expecting another baby. I went inside and wrote them a little note to tell them that whenever I gardened I was driven to prayer for them. To this day I pray for them when I work in the dirt. And then I pray for others. There's just something about the physical posture that leads me to a time of earnest petitioning before God. I'm not much of an asker. Never have been. It is one of my spiritual blind spots, I admit it. I never bothered my earthly father for anything unless I absolutely couldn't avoid it, and that directly transferred to my Heavenly Father. But the humble position of gardening brings my soul to a vulnerable, honest place. "Lord, could you... ? God, I know you know, but would you mind... ? I don't know what your plan is, but there's this need... ."

Just like the earth needs the Creator's touch in order to produce, I need to bow and ask in order to see His hand at work. So the moments in the dirt... well, friend, to me that's just really, really precious.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Jacob's Ladder

I have a perennial addiction that I've had to curb this year. The lovely acreage that I enjoyed in Buffalo was a pallet that I enjoyed learning on. When Matt wasn't looking I'd run off to the Eckhart Road greenhouse, wholesalers of perennials for the local greenhouses and nurseries, and pick up a gallon pot (only $5!), or two, or three... . The game was I'd plant them and see how long it would take Matt to notice. As a former "lawn care specialist" (overstated, dear?) in high school, it generally took no time at all for him to catch me at my game. We loved to watch the land and how it grew. I was successful at full-sun flowers thanks to the great instruction of my friend, Lori, who just keep encouraging me, "You can't kill 'em, Heidi. It's a no-brainer." Rudbeckia, echinacea, coreopsis, day-lillies, Russian sage and double-daisies. She had luscious, gorgeous perennials that she, too, made over as if they were mini-children, making me a beautiful jar full of the current blooms for my birthday. I wanted to, and continue to want to invest in perennials.

Last year I spent a large amount of time fussing about the rock garden just out behind the house. It lived underneath two enormous shady trees. The only things it really grew well at it's sunny edges were myrtle and lily of the valley. I dug up and cultivated the top half with manure and hummus (ever watch a nine-month-pregnant woman garden?!? I imagine it was hillarious!) , and put in my best effort to populate it with something wonderful: Three Astilbe, sweet woodruff, one Solomon's seal, and two Jacob's ladder. The only survivors that first year were the astilbe and sweet woodruff. Solomon's seal and Jacob's ladder were accidentally stomped and broken by the toddler and the Newfoundland early in the process. Lori assured me if I cut them back I would see them return again this summer. So I waited and waited, looking forward to enjoying a garden full of swaying, smart shade flowers.

And then came the move.

I often think back to my garden and wonder what it looks like this year. Perennials are exciting because they show forward momentum with their growth. Lori said, "The first year they sleep. The second, they creep, and the third, they leap." I so wanted to believe that the Solomon's seal and Jacob's ladder would be in bloom, and that, somehow, my life would bloom with it. As you can imagine, there are endless life-lessons from flowers, especially perennials. Gardening has been an area where God speaks clearly and quietly to me as I kneel in the dirt and work. It's meditation and cultivation of my soul. (Another day I'll tell you why.)

This year, this new era, is marked by a big, beautiful sunny yard, complete with large hydrangea blooms (my Buffalo hydrangea only ever weakly bloomed on one half of the bush...), tiger lilies, little buttery day lilies, prairie onions, and lilac trees. Matt made me promise, "I, Heidi Furr, (right hand raised, left hand on the Bible) will not plant perennials this year. I promise to study the sun/shade patterns and watch what grows. I am pregnant and sick and chasing two babies. I promise to not frustrate myself (or my husband) by trying to plant a garden. This, I solemnly swear." So I have been good... and experiencing withdrawal. LOL

A woman in my church had a long conversation with me once at a party. We got to talking flowers, particularly perennials. She, too, had a similar love of flowers. I wanted to know the good greenhouses, good prices in this area, so that when I could buy I'd save time looking around. Every now and then I'd call out to her at church, "It was beautiful this week! I was thinking about you and flowers!"

In light of my "Hit Hard" blog, you may understand the subtle implications of what I'm about to write. Sunday, Dawn came to me with a large paper grocery bag. "Just because you promised Matt you wouldn't buy flowers doesn't mean that I can't buy you flowers." We laughed, but as I looked into the bag I burst into tears. There, standing tall, and in bloom, was a Jacob's ladder.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Birthday sweetie... chocolate chip mint ice cream and chocolate cake and Libby Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Miss Lib is one year old today. Posted by Hello

Happy Birthday, Liberty Kathryn

5:18 a.m. She rose with the sun and greeted the day enthusiastically.

8:30 a.m. All out of enthusiasm. Time for a nap!

Tonight I'll probably make her favorite meal, chili and pasta. I may or may not bake a cake. The heat index will be between 95 and 100-degrees F. Turning on the oven should be illegal!

Happy birthday, baby girl!

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Better today

All that crying had a good effect because today I was able to face the world without melting. Got a shower, took the kids out to TWO grocery stores, and had a meeting before naps. (Deep breath.) I can do this.

This weekend Matt's family is coming in from West Michigan to help celebrate Liberty's one year. What a peach she is! It hardly seems possible that the time has gone by so quickly. More tomorrow.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Hit Hard

This blog needs to be cathartic because I'm a mess today. Yesterday sitting in church I was suddenly overwhelmed with a feeling of loneliness. It was so powerful that I started to cry. Strange, since I've had a few times of grown-up interaction this week. I went to a neighbor's Mary Kay party and had a great time meeting more people in my neighborhood. Yesterday afternoon I spent 2 hours at women's ministry thing at church with about 15 other ladies. You'd think it would have abated, but no. This morning is rough because, though I gave Matt the go-ahead a week ago, he has to be at church working on a time-sensitive project this morning... thus interrupting Family Day... thus leaving a lonely wife at home crying. Not to mention morning to noon is such a brutal time with the little ones on top of pregnancy, and I do 6 out of 7 mornings alone. I look forward to the company for one morning, though I thought I'd be okay without it. I guess not. I didn't anticipate the overwhelming loneliness. I am not in gracious spirits, but don't want to frustrate an already bad day by exasperating the husband. Sometimes "the ministry" is disruptive, and in general he keeps it to a minimum, so it's not his fault. And it's not my fault either. It just is.

I want to go home, but I'm not really sure where that is anymore. Life has gone on without us back in Hamburg, the house is sold, painted and redecorated. Life has some sort of rhythm here, but the walls are white, there's no artwork up, and I still have a hard time remembering my phone number. Homeless at moments, sometimes very lost, and then sometimes suddenly found. It's hard to explain. In general I can override these moments, but today's an exception.

Issues carry a different weight here too. I used to be aware of things going on at Hamburg but not have to carry them because Matt was an assistant pastor, and I was one of seven assistant wives. Here I'm the "first lady" (Matt's words, not mine). I'm constantly thinking about when to speak and when to hold my tongue. I consciously balance knowing in general the issues that NW faces, but not becoming bogged down by them. And though issues are generally not personal, as the wife of the leader it takes a boatload of discipline not to make things personal as they relate to my husband's career/life calling. But that's part of protecting my home from the invasion of the job. Most of the time I do well. Days like today I feel my limits, my shortcomings, my vulnerability. And I have to proverbially throw myself on the mercy of the court. That stinks.

The kids are well. Libby is handling her night wakings like a champ. I've stopped going in, so she generally turns the times around pretty quickly and sleeps again. Last night I heard her partying at 1 a.m. - it sounded like so much fun I wanted to go in, but curled up in the guest room to make sure she turned the corner. Izak woke up on the wrong side of the crib today, but has adjusted his attitude with a little help from Mom. Right now he's upstairs playing. It's strangely quiet... I should go check. Here's to tomorrow being better. When the nights are bleak I always remember Mom quoting the Psalm, "Sorrow lasts the night, but joy comes in the morning." I wonder if there's a scripture that says, "Hey, yesterday and today may be flushed down the toilet, but there's always tomorrow!"

Friday, June 03, 2005


What a week! I'm glad (?) it's almost over. The minivan has been at the dealership getting serviced since Tuesday, but I have faith (perhaps misplaced, we'll see) that they're doing the best they can and keeping it to what's being covered by our splendid extended warranty. That sucker may have paid for itself with the list of repairs this trip alone. So, I've been house-bound. Not generally a big deal.

The ultrasound was last evening. It went well. I believe that all is going long normally. At first I thought she might be spending too long focused on the heart, slowly clicking back and forth from frame to frame. But I could really drive myself nuts wondering or take her at her word that "everything looks good". I see the OB in a week.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Comes in Threes

This morning my sister and BIL got on a plane and headed home to Pittsburgh. They've been here since Saturday night, enjoying the kids. The last time we saw each other was the end of January, and we anticipate not seeing one another until sometime after December, probably for Bennett Christmas. The kids have changed so much, and I was so grateful for the extra help.

Monday I ran a load of dishes in the morning to keep up with the extra plates and cups, and afterwards noticed the floor sounded spongy. The good news is I get to have a newer, quieter dishwasher. The bad news is it ruined my parquet hardwood floor. Tuesday morning I spent calling insurance agents, flooring specialists, and the Dodge dealership in Antioch. My minivan's on the fritz too, thankfully the big problems are warranty work with a moderate size deductible. Dad always said, "It comes in threes." Minivan, dishwasher, floor. Yup, Dad, you're still right. We'll know the extent of the damage to the floor and insurance coverage by the end of the week. For now the peaks of wood have crushed into the floor and there's a rug over the worst of it to protect the kids. And I'm admiring my dishpan hands...

I was upset after hearing what it would cost to replace the parquet with ceramic tile. More out of disappointment than despair. But I was able to quiet myself pretty quickly. God was not surprised. He knows our situation, so why panic? The worst case scenario... a big rug for awhile. Not a problem. I have learned over the past year to go against a natural tendency of mine - motion. If something's wrong then you swing into gear, if there's a potential problem then you fuss and stir (waste a lot of energy trying to predict the future). "We must correct this immediately!" No, there's no need to freak out. A lot of times I think that the popular default mode is action, when I believe that scripture teaches us when difficulties arise we should WAIT. If the path is unclear, hold still and wait. If you're not sure that you can afford to wipe out your savings account to correct a problem, then hold on. If you're thinking that God has forgotten you and you need to take matters into your own hands, then you're misled, and potentially creating an even worse situation. Let God play His cards,wait until you feel like you've heard from HIM, and then act. Goes against my nature, that's for sure, but I'm thankful that my neurosis is lifting a little. No need to hurry or fuss, just STOP.

#3's ultrasound Thursday afternoon.