Good Saturday morning to you! It is going to be another warm one here in north Iowa. We have had a few days in the 60's so the snow is gone. Yes! We have walked outside this week, although only about 20 minutes while I build myself back up after surgeries. I have seen several deer come through our backyard on their way to the river. They are beautiful, but knowing they carry ticks and Lyme takes away the joy of having them in our yard! It is great to have the fresh air and sunshine once again. Certainly, this has been a short winter by Midwestern standards. I can remember a huge snow storm in March just a couple of years ago.....but not this year. Yay!
The second surgery went very well. I saw the Dr. again this past Wednesday and wrote about it HERE. We are thrilled with the good report and doing a happy dance!!!! I can now spend my energy and time focusing on improving my health. The last 6 months have taken a lot out of this ol body. I am doing fine, but there is room for improvement!
Speaking of eye surgery, the costs of the drops were astounding to us. I had six bottles of drops for two eyes. One kind of drop cost $250.00 per bottle. Judas! We had good insurance so ended up paying "only" $200 for the six bottles of drops, but what about those who do not have good insurance?
Speaking of improvement, Joel and I decided to do a partial Daniel Plan detox fast. I kept getting the Daniel Fast coming across my media feeds and decided maybe God was trying to tell me something. We decided to eat fruits, veggies, and water for 4 days. Easy, right? We tried the green juice for one morning, but my stomach did not approve of the fiber rich raw greens when it was empty. We had salads for lunch and roasted veggies for supper. But only fruit, veggies and water. It was interesting to note that Joel got really sick. We thought it was the detoxing until I remembered how sick he got on the vegan diet. He just needs more protein than the normal person, and he needs to get that from meat and eggs. He ate eggs for breakfast for two of the days and felt more energy right away, so this kind of fast is not for him. We both had aches and pains which we thought was from detoxing, and we both lost a few pounds. We did learn we eat way too many nuts, even they are good, they are also fattening and high in calories. We liked having just a small salad for lunch, too, so that is now on the daily menu. Even though we learned a bit from this, it was an adventure that we hope not to repeat for awhile. Ha....
We had Bible study here Tuesday night, Wednesday night we went to worship, and Thursday morning was the Women's Bible study and a pastor's conference for Joel, and Friday was a night spent with friends. It is good to be back in the swing of things again.
Joel was looking back over the financial aspect of his years of ministry this week and learned a sobering fact about his first few calls to congregations. He had never really recognized that his pay was so low that we were defined as the working poor. Yes, we had parsonages to live in, and we were more than grateful for those homes. But the amount of money we made was limited enough we were eligible for free school lunches for the kids and for food stamps. I remember having to talk Joel into taking advantage of the free lunch program at one call, because we were struggling so much financially. We never did use food stamps as we felt that should be for those who really needed it. Yes, we had more than 2 kids, and I was ill and could not work and if I could have worked we would have had a second income and a second pension, it is true, but with Joel having 13 years of college and a master's degree? It still did not help us financially. As pastors you were expected to not want to make money, or really have more than enough even while working 60 hours a week, which Joel did often.... but that is really a sad way of thinking. I can remember Joel saying more than once, "I would just like to be able to buy a cup of coffee without worrying about spending the $1 to buy it"! We were in debt because of the years we struggled....and then of course great medical debt due to the Lyme and insurance companies not covering long term treatments. I will go on to say, we do not regret one church we served or the 36 years of ministry. We would do it all again. We always felt we were rich in the people we knew, and I am sure it was not always easy to hire pastors. Especially when people do/did not tithe. (That is another sermon altogether). God always found a way to provide for us, often through the people we served. Joel worked during his vacation times baling for farmers and ranchers, sand blasting, and did other jobs just to make extra money. Vacations were not an option for many years. Now we have lived debt free for three years, and we are so grateful. And Joel can have that coffee without worrying! Today I just felt the need to bring to the attention of others the struggles pastors sometimes go through with the hope that people will realize that they for the most part they work hard to serve their congregations, are on call 24/7 and still would have it no other way. The financial tension and struggles in churches has existed since the beginning of time I expect.
I have been reading Rick Renner's book "Dressed To Kill" which is, as one friend said, a "textbook" on the armor of God. It is deep, chapters are long and intense, and it definitely is giving me new insights. I also am re-reading Christie Purifoy's book, "Roots and Sky" and have watched Charis and Bethel teachings and a conference at Bethel this week. We watched the last episode of Downton Abbey last Sunday and our usual few favs during the week. So, what have you been up to?
Until next time..................