I knew I probably shouldn’t have watched it.  But when Joe told me a few weeks ago that there was a new reality series called “Preacher’s Daughters”…my curiosity was too powerful.

“Don’t do it!” Joe said.  “You know it will just make you mad.”

Let’s just say that being a submissive wife is not one of my strong points in married life.   I will be working on that one until the day I die.   I find myself returning to Joe quite often with “You were right.  I should have listened.”

So there I was.  One morning when I should have been planning a month of organic meals or making homemade laundry soap or planning my garden or praying for the hungry kids around the world…..you know all the things a good stay at home mom does…I scoured the Internet to find out about the preacher’s daughters show.

As I assumed there were a lot of critics out there ready to chime in their voices.

After 20 minutes of internet ‘research’, I was in too deep.

To my surprise the pilot episode was free for the watching on the Internet.

The temptation was too strong and I caved.

Since I met Joe 14 years ago, he has been telling me to write a book.  A book about the real life of a preacher’s kid.

We even have a name for the book….which will likely always remain in my head, but Joe and I refer to it as if it actually is on the racks at Barnes and Noble.

Over the past 14 years we have added a sequel as both Joe and I have served on staff at different sizes of churches in three different states.  Let me tell you….if you want an endless supply of material for reality TV drama or a sarcastically funny comedy series, apply to work at a church for a year.

I can see it now ‘The Office:  Church Edition’

The book in my head includes stories that are probably of no shock….

Like the time when I was 8 and my mom and dad were in the living room talking to a woman crying her eyes out.  At the time I had no idea that this lady’s husband had left her for another woman….

I just knew that my best friend was waiting on me to go ride bikes, and I had no way out but through my window…

I had a healthy holy fear of my parents and knew I didn’t dare come out of my room….or …..well…I really didn’t even want to test that one.

So I figured out how to break out the window screen.

I may or may not have done that more than once in my life.

And of course the book will have to include the story of the day my parents found out my brother got a tattoo.

He was in college and had showed it to me when he first got it.

He was able to keep it from mom and daddy for a while…

I remember that day on the lake in our boat like it was yesterday.  There is no hiding a deltoid tattoo on a ski boat.

We all lived through that day on the lake and no one drowned.  Though there may be a few beach towels at the bottom of Lake Murray from the speed at which Daddy took off in the boat after Jeremy took off his T-shirt to ski.

As I watched the episode of Preacher’s Daughters, a flood of memories like the ones above flooded my mind.

So what was my opinion of the show?

Of course Joe was right and I got pretty aggravated at the show a few times.  The parents.  The girls.  I found myself talking to each of them though the computer.

But then my frustration turned to thankfulness.

Here’s the reality of this reality show.

Unfortunately it is true for some preacher’s families.

I have known countless church staff families in my 35 plus years of life.

I have seen staff kids who leave home and turn from the faith of their parents never to return to church again.

When someone finds out that I grew up a Preacher’s kid and still love the church…and on top of that both my siblings still choose to serve in churches. …they usually follow up with ‘Wow.  That’s unusual’

Maybe so.

They usually say, “Your parents must have done something right.”

Here’s the honest truth.

Looking in hindsight now that I am a parent myself, I can say that indeed my parents did a lot right.

One thing for sure that they did was make our house a place all our friends wanted to be.   To this day, I think any of my childhood friends would feel comfortable showing up on my parent’s porch (even if I wasn’t there) and know they would be welcomed with a hug, a cup of coffee, and a long conversation.

Another important thing they did right was that every Thursday of my life my dad took off of work and spent it with mom and in the summer took us kids out on the lake…..and in the eighties there were no phones to distract us from each other (which is a whole ‘nother discussion).

As far as rules…I am still trying to figure out which ones of my parent’s rules were ‘right’ and which were ‘wrong.’

My parents set pretty strict boundaries….but in my keepsake box from my middle school years you will find a Cyndi Lauper tape my mom bought me and pictures of Kirk Cameron that my Dad didn’t mind hanging on my wall.

But we weren’t allowed to watch  ‘R’ rated movies or wear miniskirts or get our ears pierced or go to dances.

Somehow they were able to create boundaries that worked for us.

Funny thing is….my boundaries for my own kids are not exactly the same boundaries my parents used.  I would never buy a Cyndi Lauper tape for my 8 year old, but have told her that she can get her ears pierced at age 10.

But the whole truth is….my parents and us kids would agree that they didn’t get it right in parenting 100% of the time.  Maybe not even 75% of the time.

Each of us kids could tell you stories about the times they messed up.

Don’t worry I plan to include a few of these stories if I ever get around to that book Joe is telling me to write.

So what made the difference for me and my siblings?

We are all looking for some sort of formula that we can use on our own kids to assure that they will not end up like the scantily clad daughters on that TV series who obviously are struggling to accept the faith of their parents.

Don’t listen to Justin Bieber.  (I survived a huge crush on NKOTB)

Only watch ‘G’ rated movies (My siblings and I were allowed to watch some PG movies I will never let my own kids watch).

Avoid public school.  (Yep…we survived that too)

Do family devotions (You might be surprised that family devotions weren’t a regular part of my childhood.)

I wish I had a formula to offer those people who ask me how my faith survived living in a preacher’s house.

Truth is . . .I desperately wish there was a guaranteed formula because I would sure be writing it on the wall in my own house and could make a lot of money writing a book about it.

All I know is what has worked in my home growing up and what is working in the home that I am building for my kids.

Grace.

If I am going to raise kids that come out on the other side loving Jesus, I better model for them the grace that Jesus so loving poured out to me on the cross.

My kids need to see me extend grace to myself as I look in the mirror and my jeans fit a little tighter after I have indulged in one too many late night chips and guacamole binges.  After all…guacamole just might be worth having tight jeans.

My kids need to hear me extend grace to my sweet husband when he doesn’t fill up the Brita water pitcher for the millionth time in my marriage, even though he knows how important cold water is to my mental state.  After all…when was the last time I pulled out the marching band for him.  (Joe’s love language is affirmation and early in my marriage I jokingly said “What do you want…me to bring in a marching band every time you do something good.”  He replied, “That would be awesome.”  So now,  I do a trombone playing motion in loving fun every time that I think he is going a little overboard in needing my affirmation.)

My kids need to watch me extend grace to the cashier who seems to hate his job and has not learned the phrase ‘the customer is always right.’  After all….maybe that cashier just had a parent die or was up all night with a newborn baby.   Amazing how an intentional positive comment can change the way people serve you and breathe a breath of hope into the other person’s life.

And of course. . .

My kids need to feel me extend grace to them.

Sometimes grace means going to my kids and telling them I was wrong.

Sometimes grace means setting stricter boundaries with love as to protect them.

Sometimes grace means loosening the boundaries with love to show I trust them.

And everyday grace means remembering that they are kids not adults.

Grace.

After watching the episode of “Preacher’s Daughters,” I couldn’t help but wonder…

“Is a TV reality series, the best way to create a home that abounds in grace?  When the sins of the daughters are being watched by a curious stay at home mom in Oklahoma whom you will never meet, do your daughter’s feel the power of grace….the same grace that was poured out the first Easter?  When the cameras stop rolling, do your daughters feel the overwhelming freedom that comes from laying their sins at the feet of the cross and not being bound to them? “

As a former preacher’s daughter, I am so thankful that when I sinned growing up, my parents allowed my sins to be quietly  left at the foot of the cross.

Amazing Grace, my chains are gone.

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