Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Few Honest Thoughts About Being a Pastor's Wife-Part 2

I had originally intended to write only one post about this topic, but I realized I had more to add.  Not more to add because I want sympathy, or affirmations, but more to add because I realize that many don't know a great deal about ministry life and it be helpful if they did.

So, as I mentioned in my original post, my husband his been a pastor for nearly a decade now.  There was a steep learning curve for him and I fully confess he still doesn't have it figured out.  Ministry is a little like teaching in that the work doesn't fit into neat little time blocks.  You may work hours before you actually "clock in" for the day and you may continue to work long beyond your designated quitting time.

The clincher for my husband is that it's soul saving work.  He may go to the hospital early to visit a patient before surgery but he's most focused on the condition of the patient's soul and their relationship (or lack of relationship) with the Lord.  He may do office work during business hours but then he'll be called in for a suicidal teen that showed up at youth group and will stay with that child through the early morning hours. And, because of the very nature of this work, his family will take a backseat.  Especially if he's the pastor of a small congregation.

For my husband, he is just not able to justify coming home to play CandyLand with the kids before bed when these types of situations are the epitome of his work.  His heart for the lost is so strong that he simply can't see the forest for the trees.  The members, attendees, visitors, once a year guests of the church are his focus.  Because he longs for their souls to be saved.  These factors make it incredibly difficult to balance family life and ministry.

I know that church members have legitimate concerns about the work pastors do.  A lot of us like to see results and be able to measure success.  Ministry is truly a marathon.  Pastors can sow seeds in certain people for years before the tiniest sprout ever begins to appear.  I give most pastors the benefit of the doubt.  I believe that they are doing their work to the best of their ability.  Their family may even be taking a far, far backseat so that they may carry out what they've been called to do.

Friday, January 12, 2018

A Few Honest Thoughts About Being a Pastor's Wife

Like everyone, I have many titles to my name.  Child of God, daughter, sister, friend, mother, teacher, wife.  My very least favorite title is that of a pastor's wife.  When I got married nearly two decades ago, I married a teacher.  Over time and through a variety of God circumstances, my husband became a pastor.

I confess that I had my own visions of what being a pastor's wife looked like and some of them were not far off.  My experience has been that the old saying of living your life in a fish bowl is entirely accurate.  Our small congregation watches everything about our family.  They evaluate, criticize when they feel justified to do so, and speculate about all aspects our lives.

I understand that the congregation watches us and I'm used to it after all these years.  I do my very best to be a good example of Godly character.  I have been intentionally teaching my children, since birth, Godly character traits along with a hefty dose of quality manners and respect.  I expect them to conduct themselves well in formal, and informal, settings alike.  I've come to terms with the fact that they are being watched and judged at all times, it simply comes with the territory.

The hard part though, is that we are watched, and judged, and criticized with little to no grace.  In a way that flat-out feels unfair, we are somehow held to a higher standard than the congregants hold themselves.  There is no grace for the cranky toddler cutting two year old molars or the fidgety six year old still learning self-control. There is no grace for the weary mama who must unexpectedly dash away from a conversation because one of her children needs her immediate assistance.

As you watch your pastor's wife, and his children, please keep in mind that they are sinners saved by grace just as you are.  They may be in ministry but they are in no way divine beings.  They are undeniably human with infinite flaws.  They have committed themselves to enduring your scrutiny because they care about the welfare of your eternal soul.  They will gladly accept all the love and grace you are willing to bestow upon them.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Come and See What God Has Done

My eldest daughter danced a liturgical piece at church on Christmas Eve.  The piece was to Lauren Daigle's "Noel."  As I watched the performance, and listened to the lyrics, I was struck by the line "Come and see what God has done."  Obviously, the song is specifically speaking about the birth of our Savior, but I considered the line in the light of everyday life as well.

Sharing our testimonies about what God has done can help to draw others closer to Him.  Our stories of trials, and unrelenting faith, can be used to strengthen the weary and encourage them to keep pressing on in the face of adversity.

I do readily share about God's faithfulness to my sister and I in the time of my mom's terminal illness and passing.  I am quick to proclaim His goodness and mercy despite the sad ending I wanted to avoid.  But I am less open to sharing how God has worked in the middle of my everyday, ordinary messes.  Because that would require me to admit what a complicated mess I truly am.  And really, I'm hard enough on myself already and can't bring myself to be open to further scrutiny.

But then I'm making it all about me when, as a believer, it is supposed to always be all about Him.  I'm actually not quite sure what to do with these thoughts.  I've been pondering them and trying to figure out what it all means.  I think the obvious answer would be to be open to sharing how God has worked through my trials both large and small but that is far easier said then done.  I think I will be praying this through for quite some time...

The YouTube video of Lauren's song can be found here.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Holiday Mini-Meals

This time of year, our family has extra events and a crazier-than-normal schedule (I think this is true for most people!) We are pretty good at eating at home, on a regular time schedule, most of the year but I can struggle during busy seasons like this.

We are a family of seven and our main breadwinner works in ministry.  We simply do not have the budget to swing through a fast food place every time things get busy.  One thing I have been doing for several years now is to serve mini meals ahead of our usual dinner time.

So if we typically eat dinner at 5:00 but will be out of the house until 6:30 or so, I serve a mini meal around 4:00.  I try to do a relish tray with cut veggies and some fruit.  I will also try to add a little protein when possible to keep them full.  One of our recent favorite "appetizers" has been Meatball Poppers.  I originally found the recipe on Pillsbury's website so they are made with convenience foods and not horribly healthy (hence the fruits and veggies to try to ease my mommy guilt!).

The recipe can be found here.  I don't put our poppers on sticks because it's an unnecessary expense, and let's face it, my boys will turn them into weapons for an epic dinner battle!  After our event, I'll usually serve a light dinner such as soup and sandwiches.

Do you have other tips and tricks for meal times during busy seasons?  I'd love to hear them!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Life Skills:Sewing

I think sewing is a very valuable life skill.  However, almost all of my Home Ec knowledge has escaped my memory. (#mommybrain) My eldest daughter had been exposed to basic sewing skills through a summer camp and was very interested in learning how to advance her newfound skills. For her twelfth birthday, earlier this year, I gave her a sewing machine and a basic sewing kit.

Since I was unable to teach her to sew properly, I hired a recent homeschool graduate in our community to teach her.  The teacher was able add a few more students and we had a great little class.  The girls met every other week to work on specific skills and creative projects. 

I believe, as homeschool moms, it's easy to think that we must have all the skills necessary to teach our children all the things.  We can be hesitant to admit that something isn't our strong suit or we just don't know how to teach it effectively.  I felt this way about teaching my daughter to sew.  I really wanted to teach her and I was willing to spend hours on YouTube trying to figure it all out.  But that really wouldn't have been the best route for her or I.  Hiring the sewing teacher ended up being a blessing to all of us.  The teacher earned money for her living expenses, my daughter and the other girls learned to sew and made new friends, and I even had the chance to glean homeschool/childrearing advice from the teacher's mother while the students were in class (She is raising phenomenal children and I've wanted to pick her brain for a long time!)

This week my daughter has been sewing Christmas gifts for her siblings.  She loves using the skills she's learned to bless others.  I'm so glad I was willing to lay my pride aside in order for her to flourish.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Let Laughter Ring

When my mother passed away, and my sister left our hometown for the east coast, I inherited the house I was raised in.  When I was a child, our home was rarely a happy, joyful place.  Living with an alcoholic father meant our home was usually a loud, angry, and stressful place or a silent place filled with the tension, and pressure, of the next impending explosion. 

By the Grace of God, the same home is now a dramatically different place.  The house may be the same but the atmosphere is entirely different.  My children are free to be creative, expressive, loud, and messy.  There is the occasional disagreement because there are seven people living here and it's bound to happen.  But there is grace, forgiveness, and mercy for all.

Tonight, I'm listening to the happy sounds of two of my children collaborating to create a Christmas Eve production.  The other three have created a "swimming pool" for their dolls and stuffed animals.  Every day I am grateful for God's story of redemption in this house and, more importantly, in my life.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

It Happened In a Blink

And, just like that, eight years have come and gone.  Sweet Trinity, who was a tiny baby when last I wrote, is gearing up to turn nine in January.  She is the proud big sister of two younger brothers age 5 and 3.  Daisy is nearly thirteen and Simon turns eleven in a few short weeks.  We spend our days together learning around the kitchen table in our home school.  We are humbled daily by God's goodness and mercy.