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Our church got a new pastor when I was eighteen. He wasn't like the old one. Sure his hair was regulation for a Baptist minister; short and parted to one side. His suit was pressed and usually blue and his shoes were wing-tipped and shiny leather. But he was different I soon found out.

I discovered it the night I first rang his doorbell. I wasn't there to pay him a visit though. It was one of his daughters I was interested in. I didn't care which one. Any one of the three would do. I was meeting up with several other rival suitors (and a few girls from church we'd grown too accustomed to having around to be attracted to) to watch a movie with the preacher's kids at their house.

They were always having people over. And we all came I suppose because they, the sisters, were the only remotely new things in Tyler, TX that Summer after high school. So I rang the doorbell, excited to meet these rumored sisters and the new pastor face to face for the first time.

I was early, too early to be cool at all. I was nervous. I'd spotted the oldest sister at church that morning and really hoped she was home that night. She was a few years older than me. RIght out of college. I wondered if she'd taken a job in Dallas or left to get an advanced degree somewhere like I'd heard she wanted to. I wondered and hoped. I rang the doorbell again.

And waited.

And waited.

And when the door opened there he stood. My formerly suited pastor. Scratching his stomach. No suit. No shirt. No shoes. No pants. Just socks. And underwear. And a grin that gave away the joke.

My father-in-law was - is - like no other pastor I've ever met. A head full of theology, enough to make him a Doctor of something-or-another, but a desk drawer full of fart machines and a mouth spilling stories that all end the same way: with a laugh that borders on a scream.

My mother-in-law needs prayer. She lives with the man and the desk drawer and the mouth that came with him. And she raised three beautiful and giving daughters somehow in spite of him. And then gave one away, the oldest one, to a musician as irreverent as her husband. Poor woman.

I'm consoling her and humoring him this week. They've taken our bedroom and sent me to the couch and Becky to a kid's floor. But in exchange my mother-in-law is cooking - and she's the best cook - and my father-in-law is helping me ready the house for sale - painting the deck. And I'm grateful today for in-laws that tell jokes instead of being the butt of mine. And for family that plays and thinks and works together after all this time. That's a rare thing.


Blogger GrovesFan said...

Sounds like a wonderful family. I love my in-laws too. My mother-in-law asked me one day if I wanted an antique china cabinet that had been left to her by an aunt. I said I thought it should go to one of her daughters (she has 5, and 3 sons). She looked me in the eye and said "it is going to one of my daughters." When I first got the new of my own mother's cancer, I was sitting on the patio of my in-laws home at a family reunion. The phone call came from my father, telling me of my mother's surgery and subsequent discovery, and I broke down. My mother-in-law immediately took me away and we went for a long walk together. I'll never forget how comforting that was just then. She's thanked me several times for being a good wife to her youngest son and for blessing her with 4 of her 20 grandchildren. No in-law jokes at our house either. They're the best!

Blogger Kathryn said...

that is a rare thing. . you're fortunate.

nice story, by the way, as always.

Blogger Dave Haupert said...

He's not the farting pastor we all have seen on the internet, now is he? ;)

Anonymous lc said...

you guyz are too cute:) no seriously i dont think ive ever heard of a more loving family. (by the way shouldnt poor becky be taking the couch instead of the floor. tsk tsk shaun):)

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

She's sleeping in the baby's room. The baby is sleeping in the baby's room for the first time. It's worried mother thing, not an insensitive father thing I promise.


Blogger Drew said...

That's great Shaun. Your father-in-law sounds a lot like my step-dad, also a pastor, whos has drawers full of practical jokes, and enough funny stories to fill up a lifetime's worth of Reader's Digest magazines. A rare breed of pastor indeed.

Blogger supersimbo said...

nice story man..........living with a pastor/father in law.........oh bad luck mate!!! im kidding!

Blogger sillysuesarah said...

Hi Shaun,
Great story!!

Anonymous lc said...

as long as everyones happy (which everyone seems to be) theres no problem. have fun with your inlaws.

Blogger Toby said...


Are Brian and Amy scoring on the good grub,also?

Blogger JOE B said...

Your father-in-law sound like my kind of preacher. Isn't it cool how God works things out for the best?


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