casting call: employed by the church?

>> June 21, 2009

Anyone here employed by the church? We're looking for a PW to profile for an upcoming series (it'll be painless, I promise). Please email me at clutchtalk AT gmail DOT com.

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perk guilt

>> June 17, 2009

Often times our roles as PWs come with perks, like getting served first without having to stand in line at a church function, reserved parking, travel or members doing things for you or buying you things just because of who you're married to.

Not saying you should or you shouldn't, but have you ever experienced guilt associated with the special treatment?

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mother blessings

>> June 15, 2009

I was at a baby shower for a church member when another church member approached me and asked when my shower would be (pregnant with twins due in Aug.) I told her that I wasn't really into showers and would prefer not to have one. What I really wanted to say was, "Can I plan my own mother blessing?" Yeah, fat chance.

More than toilet-paper-around-belly games and guessing baby food flavors, I would love a gathering where mothers share their advice about raising daughters, where they share their stories of how their mothers raised them, where there are meaningful prayers for the labor and delivery, where women bond in an atmosphere of love and support. Since I can't plan my own blessing, I'll just hang tight until I can do this for someone else...

Being a PW, you may be asked (directly or indirectly) to host a baby shower or this might be something you love volunteering to do for the women in your church. If creating a more meaningful event to honor the mom-to-be and baby appeals to you, here are some tips from a fellow PW, who is also a doula in Maryland.

Deidre has hosted and participated in several mother blessings. In this video she gives great examples on what to do, how to plan the event and how understanding what mother blessings are all about.


video

Resources:
http://www.blessingwaybook.com/
http://www.naturalbirthandbabycare.com/blessingway.html

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chime in: questions from you (8)

>> June 12, 2009

Time to chime in! Here's a question from a reader:

"My husband recently received his 4th church to pastor. I'm a bit overwhelmed! It kinds feels like "run, run, run." Right now, I don't feel like I really belong to any one of the 4 churches. When we moved to this district there were only two churches my husband pastored and we spent one worship day completely with one church and the next worship day with the 2nd church. Any tips on how to cope, how to take time off? Thanks."

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our PW power...

>> June 11, 2009

Back when my husband was in seminary, I remember spending an afternoon at the tennis courts with another pastoral couple we'd met. After a few doubles games, the other wife and I took a breather on the sidelines. And she started telling me how much she hated being a PW.

"It's like all these people expect me to say Hi to them at church, when I don't even want to be there! And I HATE having people in my house! And think I want to listen to their problems. Can't they tell that I don't care one bit?"

I really didn't know what to say. I felt that God called my husband to be a pastor, and since he'd called me to be my husband's wife I'm called too. And I have the power to make him happy at home, to make him feel loved and honored and respected. To give him the courage to live out his divine calling. Even when it's unpleasant.

Being a PW is personally invasive. You share your husband with dozens or hundreds of other people who feel their claim to him is as valid as yours. You serve more than you are served.

But it's not just a job. It's a calling. From God.

And as wives, we can either choose to embrace that calling, or we can make our PH's existence a living hell. No godly man wants to choose between making his wife happy and rejecting the call of God. But when we as PWs can't support God's calling to our husbands - our men are faced with an excruciating set of options:

  • leave the ministry
  • leave the marriage
  • live in misery
A wise PW told me that her dearest friend was a doctor's wife. They could relate. Both had married men with callings. Both shared their husbands with large audiences. Both endured times alone while the men worked unusual hours. Both had to learn how to entertain and cook and hostess groups in their homes because of their husbands' work - whether they naturally loved it or not.

Sometimes as PWs we all wish we could just be normal. Just sit through church. Just be a member. But how realistic is that?

Every woman married to a man of influence has unique duties. Senators' wives. Lawyers' wives. Executives' wives. Doctors' wives. Pastors' wives.

We hold the power to make our "men of influence" happy, safe and secure in their marriages so that they are free to serve God and others. It's that very calling that makes our husbands different, special.

It's what makes them the men we love.

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PW regional luncheon...

>> June 10, 2009

When my PH first started working in Georgia, I didn't participate or connect with other PWs for the first 3 years. He kept urging me to stop my self-imposed loneliness and be more friendly. I kept replying that since I was the new chick, the other PWs shouldn't make me do all the work!

Eventually, I got over myself and started showing up at a few events and activities. I'm glad I did, 'cause I've made some great friends since!

Every year, our region offers a spring luncheon for PWs from all around. During this year's camp meeting (see yesterday's post), I attended with about 100 other PWs of all ages. This particular luncheon is a no-miss event - great food, good speakers and lots of laughter makes it a must.
The speaker, Paula Montrose, shared her story of being a pastor's wife in the country of Guyana. When they moved to the USA, Paula begged her husband to stay away from the ministry. For 10 years he did other things, until he felt called to pastor again. The second time around, God gave Paula a love for ministry and people that she hadn't felt before.

Paula challenged the PW audience to embrace the fact that when we married our husbands, God also called us to the ministry in our own right. She urged us to refuse being trapped in any box that limits our gifts and talents, and instead to seek every opportunity to serve people side by side with our husbands as colleagues in ministry.

Afterwards I got a photo with her to share with CLUTCH.
Before the luncheon, I put a CLUTCH card at each place setting, so young PWs could join as readers, and older PWs could have the information for themselves or to share with younger friends. They also gave a keychain to every attendee, with a single mustard seed embedded in the center, and engraved with the text "If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed..."
Last, 10 lucky PWs had a slip of paper hidden under their plates, with a winning number on it. I NEVER win anything, anywhere - but this time I got lucky!
Becky Owens, a PW and nature photographer from TN had donated one of her framed photographs as a prize for the luncheon. Now I'll just have to find a good place to display it at home!

(Next year, I offered to crochet an afghan to give away as a prize - and other women offered their handiwork as well.)

Have you ever attended a PW luncheon? Do you regularly connect with PWs in your area through any activities? Got any ideas to share?

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camp meeting...

>> June 9, 2009

Okay, it's a really old-fashioned term. It brings to mind ancient tents with sawdust scattered between hard benches and creaky folding chairs.

Many churches have abandoned the idea. People are too busy, or too preoccupied to take a few days off and gather together for spiritual rejuvenation.

But not all denominations have abandoned the general idea. Some have yearly revival meetings, others have church campouts every summer. There are lots of ways we still keep the idea going.

Where I live (Atlanta, GA), we still happen to call it camp meeting. Everyone for miles around gathers at a Christian university campus for a long spring weekend of fun, fellowship and spiritual renewal. It's a far cry from the stereo-types, and our family loves it.

There are meetings for the kids all day long (free daycare, YAY!), great speakers, great music, and gorgeous spring weather.

Best of all, for me anyway, all the PWs from miles around are there as well. We have our own banquet luncheon, our own outings, and the rare chance to spend hours chatting uninhibited with PW friends we don't see the rest of the year!L>R: Brittany Cinquemani, Sarah Asaftei (me), Holly Elias, Elizabeth Wright, Denise Rustad - all young PWs or PGs (pastors' girlfriends) from the TN-GA area.

Does your church have regional get-togethers each year for spiritual renewal and fellowship?

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CLUTCH gets a makeover...

>> June 8, 2009

Well, at some point, we'd like to do a totally customized CLUTCH design. But while Delina and I both love blogging, we're not exactly fluent in design code. So until God provides a way for that to happen, we wanted to at least spruce it up and make it an even nicer place for you to hang out online.

And we wanted to give a big thanks to Chiquitta, a friend of Delina's who re-worked the CLUTCH header for us.

You can now find our favorite blogs, email/feedreader subscriptions and click to follow, as well as PW websites - all down at the bottom of the blog in addition to our blogger profiles across the top and lots of resources along the sidebars.

So we hope you enjoy it, keep coming back, and share the link with your PW friends!

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a stitch in time...

>> June 7, 2009

Being a PW keeps us all busy. Especially if you have kids. Even more so if you also have a job outside the home in addition to kids.

So what are your little tricks for saving time?
Keeping things flowing along?
Minimizing the madness?

Spill, girls - we are dying to know!

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guest blog: 30 ways PWs can show their churches some love

>> June 4, 2009

A pastor's wife can often be her husband's best asset or his biggest hindrance in ministry. She might see the church as her enemy- the job takes him away from her, their children, and their home. All plans are tentative, depending on what needs arise in the congregation. When pastors' wives stop seeing themselves in a battle for his attention, they can begin partner with their husbands in ministry. Like Priscilla and Aquila, they work together to disciple and minister to others.

Here are 30 Practical Ways Pastors' Wives Can Show Their Churches Some Love
1. Pray for members specifically and often.
2. Smile, a lot.
3. Serve the church with your gifts and talents.
4. Be a willing hostess.
5. Show and tell your children's Sunday School teachers and youth leaders how much you appreciate them.
6. Don't always be the last one to pick up your kids from their classes or child care.
7. Don't take the best parking spot.
8. Don't expect youth to baby-sit for free.
9. Write cards, letters, and/or emails to members.
10. Keep confidential matters confidential.
11. You can't do all things for all people, but be careful not to just do some things for some people.
12. Do not participate in gossip.
13. Respect your husband as the head of your family and the leader of your church.
14. Spare your friends in the church the details of your marriage, find other women to share with who are not in your church.
15. Be real about your life, family, and weaknesses.
16. Keep your home tidy (I'm not saying immaculate) for visitors.
17. Give generously of your time, money, and possessions.
18. Be visible and approachable around church.
19. Realize that some of the pressure you put on yourself is just that- self-inflicted, and not from the church.
20. Take time to feed yourself spiritually- grow in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, bible study, and worship.
21. Don't take a job or position just because if you don't no one else will, allow others to step up and use their gifts.
22. Get to know women in different life stages from your own and learn from them.
23. Be willing to accompany your husband on visits and in meetings so he is not alone with a woman.
24. Know your weakness and try to strengthen them. For example, read a book on counseling (like Women Helping Women by Fitzpatrick and Cornish) or hospitality.
25. Make your husband a better preacher by giving constructive suggestions at the appropriate time.
26. Keep yourself healthy.
27. Forgive and forget.
28. Keep frozen cookie dough in the freezer to bake when some one stops by the house.
29. Take care of your appearance.
30. Serve more than you expect to be served.

Sandra Peoples is a pastor's wife living in Pennsylvania. She is the SAHM of two busy boys. She blogs at Today's Housewife with friends.


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hospitality to young mothers: how older women can help

>> June 3, 2009

We've been at our church for a little over a year. In that time, the friendships that I've built have been with other mothers who also hang out in the mother's room. A few months ago, when my son was about 10 months, I had one of the older women in the church come and tell me that when her kids were small, they didn't need a mother's room. Her kids would sit in church quietly in the 2nd pew for the whole service.

I told her straight up, "I don't believe you."

As a PW, I want contribute to the atmosphere of being open, honest and real and not allowing people to make young mothers feel bad that their children are acting like children in church.

Probably because I'm in the thick of it, I feel a special burden for this segment of the congregation...and when my kids get older, I pray that I don't forget how hard it was to manage.

What can I do to encourage older women to, at best, be helpful to mothers with children, encourage them and assist them or at least, not be critical and make them feel inadequate?

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a welcoming atmosphere for mothers with young children

>> June 2, 2009

I've heard from many mothers of young children who said they visited certain churches and would never return because there was no comfortable place for them to meet their children's needs. Though some churches have nurseries, where you can drop your baby off while you go participate in the service, many smaller churches do not. At the very least, these churches should have a designated room for mothers to feed their babies, change diapers, rock baby to sleep and be able to hear/watch the service.

Unfortunately, meeting this need has been an after-thought for many congregations and an untold number of mothers have, as a result, felt unwelcome and uncomfortable.

I've been bugging and begging the senior pastor of our church (my husband is the associate) to please do something in order for mothers with babies (especially) to have a place to tend to their children. It's coming along slowly but surely...

About a year ago, I was a guest podcaster on my PHs blog where we detailed what churches could do to make mother's feel welcomed. Here's what we came up with. (Listen here.)

Assuming that your church offers a Mother’s Room/Lounge, make sure that it is:

1. Easily accessible

2. Private

3. Single-use

4. Quiet and comfortable

5. Equipped with sound, video or some access to experience church service

6. Well-equipped with extras (wipes, diapers, rocking chair, etc.)

7. Baby proof

8. Clean

In addition:

9. The culture of your church should be welcoming and understanding

10. Train your ushers to assist the mamas hauling babies.


Does your church have a special place for mothers and babies? What are the key elements you think a mother's lounge/mother's room should include?

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creating atmospheres of warmth

>> June 1, 2009

We've served in some genuinely warm congregations. And also some icy cold ones. But we've learned that the pastor's example can make a big impact. Here's a few things we've discovered that PHs and PWs can do to make a difference:

  • do your best to learn member's names, and greet them with a warm handshake or a hug
  • notice visitors, greet them, ask them how they enjoyed the service, and invite them back or to a small group/church outing/sports meet/children's activity that might interest them
  • have one weekend a month where you make extra food for lunch and then wait to issue an invitation until after church, asking God to help you notice someone that you should invite (we have made the most extraordinary connections this way, and it has often been the start of new friendships)
  • invite a family from your congregation over for a spaghetti supper, nothing fancy, just an hour of getting-to-know-you-better - I know one pastoral family who has this tradition every Friday night...
  • actually answer your phone when church members call (unless it's during your sacred family time, and then be sure to call back), I had one woman tell me after a meaningful phone prayer time: "I've never EVER been able to actually make contact with a PW before, and I'm so grateful you didn't screen my call!"
  • urge members to gather together for social events and get to know each other better
  • spend a little time in the church lobby each week (if your current children's ages permit), and just be available to chat with people, it doesn't have to be long - but your visual availability speaks volumes
  • don't exceed your limitations or over-commit yourself
One guest speaker at our church recently said, "Remember, food + people = evangelism." I've been thinking about it ever since. And it's true, Jesus did much of his ministry around a table. Food may not be the only avenue to create warmth, but it sure can go a long way!

How do YOU find ways to foster warmth and genuine relationships among your church family? What activities suit YOUR personality and gifts?

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