holiday gratefulness

>> November 30, 2008

This year was an unusual Thanksgiving month for us. My job took me to the UK and then Russia for the first two weeks of the month, then a week at Andrews University.

Then, for Thanksgiving week my pastor husband had to travel to Brasil for 10 days to prepare for next year's mission trip. Our church is planning to build two churches in the Amazon interior. I'm thankful for his passion for taking people on mission trips - it changes lives - but the idea of being at home alone on Thanksgiving was pretty bleak.

So I spent the holidays in Chicago with cousins. We made a massive batch of yummy chocolate cherry cookies, gluten steaks, chik'n artichoke bake, potato leek soup and pumpkin pie.

There was a very cool barn door with an old sign on it. Just begged to be photographed. And it felt very spiritual, too - the light bursting through the window and the One Way arrow...

Another thing I'm thankful for this year is female friends. Loneliness is something I've struggled with for years, and knowing that it's usually unwise to get close to (even the nicest) church members doesn't make it easier.

My husband challenged me a couple of years ago to purposefully focus my energy on building some strong female friendships. I prayed for quite a while about whom to even begin getting to know! Since then, God has put a variety of amazing women in my path and I feel incredibly blessed.

This year I got the unusual and precious opportunity to spend several days with some of those girlfriends (some of whom were fellow PW's), and for that I am grateful.
R>L: me, my cousin, a friend, a fellow pastor's wife, and another friend - out in the snow


who to invite?

>> November 21, 2008

Traditionally, Thanksgiving is a "family holiday".

But in our previous church district, my husband and I decided to expand our horizons a little bit. Our table guests were sparse last year, just the two of us and my parents – and we come from the philosophy that at times like these, the more the merrier!

So we started talking around to our friends in the congregation to see who wanted to share the holiday dinner together. Several showed interest, but in the end all declined.

We were disappointed. All our friends seemed to have better things to do than spend time with us! ☹

So one night, the week before the holiday, I decided to pray about it. I really felt strongly that we needed to invite someone over and I just couldn’t figure out whom. So I asked God “What’s your plan? Is there someone I’m supposed to ask specifically?”

And then I thought of Mr Hughes. A tall and distinguished elderly gentleman who’d sat in the same spot on the same front pew every service for the past 20+ years. He played the violin sometimes for special music, and attended church alone because his bedridden wife couldn’t come along.

Occasionally he would stay for fellowship dinner, and when he did, he would always go back through the line a second time to pack a little Styrofoam plate to take home and share the church dinner with her.

Mr Hughes always had a quick smile and a hug for anyone who would spare him a moment’s notice. He was a true Southern gentleman of the old sort. They had no children in the area, or family to share the holiday. I was almost certain they’d be eating a microwave dinner at home alone.

So I invited Mr Hughes to join us.

He arrived right on time, and started off by saying that he couldn’t stay more than an hour or two, because his wife was having a bad day.

But during that hour he oohed and aahed over the dinner, regaled us with stories of frontline reconnaissance in the Pacific theatre during World War II, sang songs and cracked jokes and had a wonderful time.

When he left, we packed him a huge plate of holiday food to take home for his wife. As he stood at the door, he had tears in his eyes and told me that this was the first time he’d been out of the house for anything but church or the doctor in years.

I knew we’d done the right thing. Then we moved to a new district last spring, and a few months ago we heard that Mr Hughes had suddenly passed away from an unexpected illness.

At the time, it felt great to know that our invitation gave a wonderful old man a sense of family and acceptedness during an otherwise lonely holiday. It felt good to bless him that way.

As I’m writing this, I just realized that it was also his final Thanksgiving on this earth. I’m glad he shared it with us - I think we were the ones who were blessed.

Who does God want you to invite to join your family table this year?


making ministry real

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Partly because it seems like one of the rare American holidays that actually has to do with relationships rather than material consumerism.

Thanksgiving seems more about getting together with people than going out shopping for more useless clutter. I like that.

But I guess on any holiday, it can get easy to be wrapped up in ourselves. The perfect dinner menu. Just the right table decorations. Whether or not the least favorite relative is showing up this year…

It can be a challenge to see the holidays as opportunities to minister, especially as PW’s when our schedule is dictated by the number of special events at church. And when all we’d really like to do is maybe hide away at home with our husbands and families and have just ONE happily uninterrupted day together.

When I was about 5 or 6 years old, my family made some winter holiday memories together that profoundly impacted my little girl self. I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back I know that we were poor. Not just “less-than-comfortable”. We were totally below the poverty line.

But there was another young family with a new baby who lived near us – and they were even poorer. So my parents decided to help them out. We went to the grocery store and put together a shopping list. Then we packed all the bags as prettily as we could into an open banana box and walked over to their house.

We tiptoed to the door, set the box on the step, rang the doorbell and ran merrily around the corner of their little trailer to wait for them to discover the gift.

My childish heart felt a thrill as we watched them exclaim over the simple box, knowing that I had been part of giving them something they needed.

Thanksgiving can be a great time to involve ourselves and the children around us in the excitement of meeting someone else’s needs. At a season where even selfish society urges us to be thankful, sometimes we need to be the reason for another’s gladness.

Besides, it’s those small things that are small on money and big on heart that make lasting memories for both children and adults. Have you had a similar story you’d like to share here? Or maybe you can think up something creative to do with your kids this year to spread the thankfulness around?


are you out there? - open thread

We sorta already know you're there, but you're probably just lurking around, checking out the blog. Well, there's not *much* to check out yet, but there can be if you help us out.

We're going to reserve Fridays and the weekend for an open thread. Tell us what's on your mind...anything (even if it's not related to your life as PW). Or, if you prefer tell us what would you like to see on Clutch?

Talk to us. We're listening.


the typical pastor's wife

>> November 20, 2008

I've often heard PWs of all ages, of all different gifts, personalities and lifestyles and interests say that they're "not the typical pastor's wife." I suppose on some level, no one wants to be the "typical" anything. But that got me thinking... what is the typical pastor's wife?

What elements define the stereotypical pastor's wife? How do you fit into that description? In what ways do you break the mold?


music video parable

>> November 19, 2008

In addition to being a pastor's wife, I also work with a film team based in the United Kingdom, called tedMEDIA productions.

We work to create cutting edge resources for Christian outreach and inreach, particularly reaching the secular and postmodern audiences of today's emergent generation.

Just today, we've released a new music video about the parable of the Prodigal Son. It is a modern retelling of the biblical story, in an urban style. If urban music isn't your thing, that's okay too. We are producing classical, acoustic, folk, gospel, and hymns as well. :)

But if you like it, please go leave a comment! For now, it is only available on YouTube for viewing and embedding. We hope to provide for purchase and download at a later time.


profile of a PW: lisa chan

>> November 17, 2008

My husband just received his issue of Outreach magazine with Francis Chan on the cover. In case you've never heard of him, Francis Chan is a pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, CA who does amazing things and really has a heart for reaching "the least of these." His church, who has outgrown its current facilities, decided to build an outdoor amphitheater for $1 million instead of a new, larger church for $20 million.

In an effort to put their personal money where their mouth is, the Chan family sold their house, moved to a smaller house, took in the inlaws and frequently houses college students, struggling couples, etc. in addition to their four children. When he first brought up selling the house, his wife, Lisa, said, "If you really believe that this is what God wants us to do, then I trust you."

This Lisa Chan is an amazing woman with a voice and message to match. Hopefully we'll have an interview with her on this blog soon. I'm gonna start working on it. In the meantime, check her out and be inspired.


when his ministry cramps your style... (part2)

(read part 1)

It's a high calling, I know. Wait! Let me introduce myself. I'm Delina. As a PWs in my early 30s, I've often thought it would be much easier to embrace biblical womanhood if I was married to Joe the Plumber. As Sarah discussed, we can all think of plenty of reasons why being a PW might be undesirable, inconvenient, annoying, or as I like to say, "cramping my style." At face-value, you can live your life resenting your husband's call to ministry or you can choose to step it up a notch. Or maybe a few notches.

But what does this look like? It might be that you won't allow your career aspirations to compete with his. It might mean you'll intentionally seek out friends in unexpected places when you live someplace you don't want to live, away from family, friends and anything familiar or comfortable. It may mean that you'll ask God for a heart change when you're resentful because you're moving away from each district just as you were finally beginning to feel at home and make friends. I don't know what it'll look like for you. But God does. And I know that when you submit your dreams and desires to Him, you can be assured that His plans for you exceed your wildest imagination. They're good.

Trust that he has a plan to use your gifts, skills, experience, knowledge, interests. More importantly, know that He's intensely interested in molding you into the woman He created you to be.

I will never forget the words of one wise woman who, during our time in Seminary, told me: "God brought you together, so always know that your husband's calling and your calling will never lead you in opposite directions."

The next time something seems to be "cramping your style," I invite you to step back and ask God to change your heart and your perspective to better reflect His plans. Ask Him to help you figure out what to cling to, and what to let go of in your life.

No, it's not easy to, above your own desires, take up the role as helper, encourager and partner in ministry. But it's what the awesome, infallible, infinitely wise, and providential Creator of the Universe designed for you. He's entrusting this awesome task to you. It really is your calling too.

So, tell us, have you ever felt like you and your husband were being pulled in two different directions?Have you ever felt like you were competing with his calling to ministry or there didn't seem to be room in your lives for both of you to pursue your individual callings?


when his ministry cramps your style... (part1)

>> November 16, 2008

Hi, I'm Sarah. As a pastor's wife in my late 20s, I've often heard other minister's wives in my generation express regret or even antagonism toward their husband's career.

"It’s his job, not mine! His congregation, not mine. His calling, not mine."

It's natural to struggle against our own hearts. Some of us don’t want to be called. We’d like to let all the divine calling be for our husbands.

Admittedly, being a pastor’s wife (PW) has its unique challenges and joys. It’s not like being the wife of the banker or doctor or even the plumber. People watch us, measuring our performance against their own (often unreasonable) expectations. And let's be totally honest, the life of a PW can occasionally be downright inconvenient, getting in the way of our plans, our dreams, our visions of how marriage and family life would be.

In this generation we’re often trapped between culture and our biblical calling. Society says we can have it all – the career, the kids, the home – but never urges us to ask God what He calls us to be.

Before we can begin to acknowledge, accept and even embrace our role and calling as PWs, we must first find our identity in biblical womanhood.

And it’s not easy. In fact, it's counter-cultural. American society (exported worldwide) urges women to be self-serving, self-involved and self-absorbed. We just call it independence, ambition and confidence. It’s a daily struggle to reject contemporary culture and surrender first to God.

Proverbs 31 describes the biblical woman as someone who isn’t afraid to work with her hands, and who loves serving people. This woman is strong, loves beauty, and stays organized. She’s someone who blends kindness and capability so well that her husband’s reputation is built up because of how she acts. Everything she does enhances the lives of those around her.

Heavily influenced by the feminist movement, American culture tells us to protect ourselves. Be independent. Focus on our own needs first. Look out for ourselves, because if you don't take care of yourself, who will? But Scripture says we are created to serve each other. Live for the well-being of others, and the church. Set aside our wants for the good of other people. And submit ourselves to the authority and leadership of the man God placed at the head of our households. Ouch!

As biblical women we choose to live differently than other women around us. Different attitudes. Different priorities. Different expectations of ourselves and others. It’s about sorting through our culture, and taking only the best and most biblical. It's about holding tight to what is good.
(read part 2)

How has your thinking about what it means to be a woman been influenced by feminist ideas?



>> November 11, 2008


I don't know how to express to you how excited I am about this blog and the possibilities of networking with other pastor's wives in my generation. I'm looking forward to being blessed by this experience.

A little bit about me:

I'm 31, was born in Costa Rica, lived in Mexico for a bit and then grew up mostly in Texas. In the last 10 years, I've lived in Texas, Washington DC, Texas again, Michigan and now California. I have a degree in journalism and I still love to write, edit and create, though I hardly ever do it for pay these days (more on that in a bit).

A lot of times I have an insatiable need to know. It's probably why I liked interviewing and reporting and why today I thrive off getting the inside stories on politics and newsmakers. I live for a good documentary. Besides prowling the internet for information, I love to entertain friends and soon-to-be friends, plan parties, read books and dabble in photography. There is really not enough time in the day to explore my interests and meet my goals. But that in itself keeps me going.

My husband, Ben, is an associate pastor. His passion is young adult ministry. We're constantly lamenting the fact that, as a whole, we're not investing time in helping young adults acquire a passion for the Word and for God. Clutch Talk is a result of that passion, because our generation of pastor's wives and our unique struggles are overlooked.

Together Ben and I share a one-year-old son, Maxton. He's the absolute love of our lives. We enjoy him so much. I dedicate my days to caring for him and raising him up to be a strong man of God. I believe with every cell in my body that God gave him life for a special and unique purpose. I can't wait to witness what God has in store for him. I totally don't deserve him. So, Maxton is the main reason I don't work for pay, but really, he saved me from having to look for work when we moved to L.A. I never really thrived as an employee. There seemed to be no time to live life!

This way of life suits me a whole lot better and I sincerely feel that it's just a bit more full because I get to embark on this PW conversation with you! I look forward to reading your insights and building this community.

Welcome to CLUTCH!

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