HOW TO::eat healthier in the PW home

>> March 30, 2010

Ever thought about how the way we eat reflects our relationship with Christ?  

I’m not talking about eating cookies with cross-shaped chocolate chips or searching out a cinnamon roll with a likeness of John the Baptist.  I’m not challenging you to discover what manna really was, find a recipe to recreate it and then serve it for every dinner (twice a day during lent.) Not quite, anyway.  But if you do find a pancake with the face of Jesus in it, let me know.  I am sure there is a museum along Route 66 that has a space in between its “Elvis’ face in a slice of cinnamon bread” and the photo of an uncanny likeness of The Virgin of Guadalupe in someone’s pouffy 80’s bangs!

I’m not saying that Jesus loves cows more than he loves you, so therefore we should not eat them.  God gave us animals to use as a resource, but we still need to be good stewards of animals and our earth.  The way we eat reflects how we feel and what we think about our world.  The very food we eat has a direct impact on our earth, our community, and people all around the world.  Hold on, I know I am losing a few of you… This is big.  You’ll get where I’m coming from in a minute. 

First of all, what we eat has a direct impact on the environment.  One of the first jobs that God gave to us was to be stewards of our planet.  Most of the meat that we eat is not from a cute little farm with happy cows named Bessie and Spot who happily munch grass and clover.  Most of it comes from giant feed-lot style industrial farms.  Because of their tremendous size, they are slowly wreaking havoc on our environment. 

The large amount of waste from these farms isn’t usually dealt with properly and can cause health problems and issues with the environment at large.  Runoff from these industrial “farms” pollutes streams while animal waste taints drinking water.  These animals are also fed corn and other foods that they don’t digest well.  This causes their bodies to breed more harmful bacteria than normal.  I have a hard time justifying this as being a “good steward” of the resources God gave us.

Second, eating meat can be a humanitarian issue, too.  We are literally feeding animals to get them fat so that we can eat them while hungry people around the world go, well, hungry.  I even found one statistic saying that cattle’s caloric intake alone is enough to feed 8.7 billion people.  That’s a lot of calories we’re feeding to animals!  Ok, I don’t want people running up to me saying, “Those figures are off, missy, its actually 6.3 billion.”  That’s not my point.  My point is that animals eat a lot of food that could potentially be fed to a starving child.  When it comes right down to it, if I had to become a vegetarian to save the lives of little starving kids -- I would. 

Americans eat a lot of meat.  We eat way more than what the rest of the world eats.  Here is my very non-scientific example.  When I lived in Italy, we only ate a little meat.  In fact, meat was not the main course, far from it!  Meat was more like a condiment.   I was in Italy with another woman from the States and she constantly complained that all she wanted was a big, fat steak.  I couldn’t be happier… I got real Italian food at every meal!  The first time I told a nutritionist friend that I’d cut out some meat-based protein in our diet, I thought I’d get a tongue-lashing.  What I got instead was, “Good!  Americans get MORE THAN ENOUGH PROTEIN.”   

Let me sing the praises of plants for a minute.  Plant based protein is cheap.  A 1 lb bag of beans costs around $1-$2.  One 1 lb. bag makes 6 cups when you reconstitute them.  (Six cups of beans=three cans of beans.)  That can sometimes feed our family of 5 up to three different times.  That’s some pretty cheap protein! 

Eating plant-based protein is good for you, too.  It has no saturated fat, tons of fiber, and for a germ-o-phobe like me, I don’t have to worry about cooking the heck out of it to get rid of E. coli or salmonella secretly lying in wait to take my family down.  Bags of shelf-stable beans are, duh, shelf-stable.   And they’re stable for a long time.  They require no energy to store and its not a pain to defrost them like the 6 lb. log-o-ground beef that’s been hiding in the bottom of your deep freeze since last May.    

Before you start to tell me how your cousin’s babysitter’s hair fell out when she went veggie, the danger of that happening is pretty remote, especially if you are only replacing one or two meals a week with vegetable based proteins.  True, plant based proteins are incomplete, which means you have to pair them with another plant based protein to be well-rounded.  (There’s a reason millions of people around the world pair rice with beans…) I know this is your “Aha!” moment of the day.  You’re welcome.  I’m happy I can be a part of it.

The other question that I get asked quite often is, “How the heck did you get an I-grew-up-on-pop-tarts-and-Totino’s-party-pizzas-latch-key-kid husband and two (at the time) preschoolers to convert into a granola-loving, green-munching, bean-chowing, not-so-much-meat-eating family?! 

It was easy. 

I didn’t tell them.  I quietly switched about 2 meals a week to veggie.  When I finally popped the question to my husband, a look of fear passed over his face (like maybe the next words out of my mouth were going to be that I would stop shaving my legs and quit bathing regularly, too). He tentatively answered, “I don’t know how I feel about that.” 

Then I said, “How would you feel if I told you that we have been eating this way for two weeks already?”  His reply?  “Huh.  Ok.” 

It was that easy.

Now for the “HOW-TO” part. How do you do this in your home? It's easy, really.  But don’t go replacing your chicken nuggets with chik’n nuggets just yet.  And don’t get the idea that you have to start serving Tofuna Noodle Casserole.   Here are some easy ways you can include some globally conscious, meat-free meals in your meal plan:


  • Try replacing one meat-based meal with a meatless one, just once a week.  I have heard a lot of people jumping on the “Meatless Monday” bandwagon.  Just one meal a week makes a big difference!
  • Buy meat from local farms.  Most often this meat is from cows that are allowed to eat what they want (grasses) and roam around in a happy pasture.  It’s often less tainted with E. Coli, has fewer antibiotics (if any), and you support your local economy when you buy from the farmer down the road.  Where can you find these farms?  The good ol’ internet is a great place to start.  (http://www.eatwild.com) Or lots of times, the meat comes to you via co-ops or your local farmer’s market.   I love chatting with our gentle beef farmer at our local farmer’s market.  He’s so passionate about his grass-fed beef, he’ll give it away for you to try! 
  • Opt out of meat during normal family-approved fare.  Ever tried taco night without the meat? Its fun!  Black beans, pinto beans, refried beans… you won’t be missing out on flavor!   Or pasta?  One of my kid’s favorite pasta sauces is Peanut Sauce.  It’s packed with protein! Another family favorite is called Penné with Pumpkin Sauce.  I know what you’re thinking… pumpkin?!  Aren’t those just for carving?  (You know, from that holiday no good pastor’s family should celebrate?!)  Au contraire!
  • If you have some true foodie daredevils in your house, you could even try homemade lentil walnut burgers, vegetable curry, gado gado, falafel, jop chai or eggplant parmesan.
  • If you’re concerned about price, try eggs for a non-meat option.  There are some really yummy quiche recipes out there!
  • Kick the lunchmeat habit!  Lunchmeat is one of my biggest vices (its not really meat anyway, so it doesn’t count, right?). It’s also one of the most un-healthy things we can eat.  It’s super processed and typically full of salt and other nasty additives.  In lieu of the dreaded lunchmeat sandwich, try: hummus & pitas, grilled cheese with garden fresh tomatoes, and even good old PB&J!
  
I know what you are saying right about now, “But I have no recipes for anything even remotely vegetarian.  The only non-meat thing I know how to make is macaroni and cheese from a box.“

Have no fear.  I am going to show you a couple recipes that are so good, you won’t even miss one bite of chicken! 

Sommar’s Peanut Sauce
1/3 cup peanut butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1/3 cup water
cayenne, to taste

Place ingredients in a bowl and stir well.  Microwave for about 30 seconds; stir again and serve over noodles, vegetables, pitas, etc.  Also delicious when used as a pizza sauce.  Just add green onions and cheddar cheese.  Yum.


Crustless Broccoli Cheddar Quiches
6 large eggs
½ cup half & half
¾ cup cheddar cheese
1 10 oz package frozen broccoli florets
1/8 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350º.  Grease four 8 oz ramekins (or a 9-inch pie dish); set adside.  Place broccoli in a microwave safe dish and cook in micro about 2-ish minutes; transfer to a cutting board, blot dry with paper towels.  Chop coarsely. 
2.  In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half & half, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper and nutmeg.  Stir in broccoli and cheese. 
3. Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet.  Ladle broccoli mixture into ramekins, dividing evenly.  Bake until golden brown, 35-40 minutes.  Serve with a crusty bread and salad.

So there you have it.  Just taking one little step can change your family’s health and our earth for the better! 
Buon Appetito! 

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introducing::JENAH (a how-to columnist)

>> March 29, 2010

JENAH IS CLUTCH'S NEWEST WRITER. 

HER COLUMN "MARY&MARTHA" IS A HOW-TO COLUMN FOR PW'S ON EVERYDAY LIFE ISSUES.

Hi!  I’m Jenah and I am super excited to be blogging for CLUTCH!  I’m 31 years old.  I have brown hair and brown eyes.  I don’t like seafood.  Here's a little bit about me:


How did you end up in the ministry?
How could I choose any other lifestyle?  The comfortable life in a quiet subdivision seemed so, how would you say, predictable.  I much prefer to drive old cars as opposed to brand new minivans.  I really like the fact that if my husband says he’ll be home at five, it could actually mean 7:30.  Such spice!
I especially like having my home tidy all the time because you never know who will show up at the front door, maybe even for dinner!  I love getting my kids ready all by myself for church, too - that’s the best part.

Really, I just couldn’t see purpose in any other life.  Working to make money never seemed like a goal to aspire to, but working to build the kingdom of Christ here on earth?  Now that’s a noble goal, I just didn’t know how many sacrifices would come along.

How did you and “Pastor Eye Candy” meet?

As soon as I could, I lit out of the Minneapolis area where I was born and raised, headed for the booming metropolis of Chicago.  I attended Moody and met my husband Craig through mutual friends.

Our first official date (actually my first date ever) was a Cub’s game and a dinner at Mr. J’s.  We’ve been together for 12 years, married for almost 10.  We both majored in Urban Ministries, so don’t ask me how we ended up in a small town in southeast Minnesota.

Speaking of southeast Minnesota, how did you end up here?

That’s a good question!  While we loved the city, we knew God was calling us out of our community there.  We had lots of options, but somehow ended up at a church that I had visited several times before.  Good friends of my parents attended (and still do) this church, in fact, their daughter was one of my best friends growing up.  It was really one of those super weird “It’s a small world after all” sort of moments.  We’ve lived here for about 8.5 years now.

What sort of pastor is that "Pastor Eye Candy" of yours?

If I knew, I’d tell you! He was hired as an associate pastor in charge of worship.  After much drama, his position has morphed into something more complex.  He's not the senior, but he's the only full time pastor our church has.  He’s in charge of all pastoral care, worship, counseling, preaching once a month, relationship building, outreach, etc.  We have a part time guy who preaches 3 times a month, he lives out of town and commutes two hours every Sunday. 

At a larger church, Craig would probably be labeled a campus pastor, but since we’re smaller, I guess you could just call him “The Man.”

Do you’se gots kids?

We do.  Three.

Malin Fran is 8, Aiden Fritz is 6, and our adorable little muffin Vienne Elinor is 1.  We are proud public-schoolers and I am actively involved in our Early Childhood Family Education program and am the secretary for its PTA.  (And yes, I drive a Honda Odyssey.  It does NOT, however, have a sticker of a soccer ball in the back window.

What do you like to do and how would you describe yourself?
I am very stubborn and strong willed.  I have strong ideals, but I can let them go if I feel like a relationship might get compromised.  I am a task-master, but think people are important, too.  I like to be organized but I’m not OCD.  I love to be in the kitchen.  I have about 25 frozen meals in my freezer and I love to bake bread.

I am recently gluten-free (hooray) to see if that might help some of my fibro-myalgia-esque symptoms.  I love yoga, pilates, riding my bike, and I believe “taking walks” is the cure for many an ailment.

I love to travel and have been all over the stinkin’ place.  Vienna was one of my favorites, as well the good ol’ American west coast.  I love to write, love to watch 30Rock, America’s Next Top Model, and any movie with Jason Schwartzman in it.  I make my own laundry detergent, use cloth diapers, and make some yummy freezer jam with the berries we pick in the summer.

Oh, I’m also a photographer, and yes, I do make money taking pictures, just not very much.


What do you want to be when you grow up?
I want to get a degree in nursing and either:
    1.    work in a fistula clinic;
    2.    train midwives in developing nations;
    3.    teach women how to be advocates for themselves/their children as well as teaching them simple health care (also in developing nations).

If I don’t do that, I would love to teach teen moms in the inner city how to successfully breastfeed their little ones.       

So that’s the skinny on me!  Thanks for reading!

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dear abigail::what's the PW etiquette for gift-giving?

>> March 28, 2010

Dear Abigail,
Graduation season is approaching and my PH and I will be invited to many graduation parties.  Last year, my PH wasn't yet on staff at our church so we attended only the parties to which we were given a written invitation. There were only a few, so we were able to give a small cash gift to each of the graduates. 

But now that my husband is the senior pastor at our church, we'll be personally invited to many more parties, and are likely expected to attend those posted in our church bulletin (even if we don't receive an actual invite).  

How do we handle this?  It seems impossible to attend every one, especially since we will have a newborn at the time.  And, how do we handle gifts?  We aren't in a financial position to give cash to each graduate anymore, but don't want to seem stingy either.  What's the etiquette? ~ PW in MI

Dear PW in MI,
It's tough having a generous heart on a short budget, isn't it? First of all, it's important to treat all invitations with appreciative grace, whether you can attend or not. 

Your PH can forestall many issues by making a simple announcement from the pulpit a couple of weekends in a row, along the lines of: "Summer is almost here, and my lovely wife and I wish that we could attend the parties of every single graduate this year, because we are so proud of all of you. However, with the new baby coming, my wife needs to rest and I'll be spending a lot of time caring for her and the baby, so we regret that we won't be able to celebrate with each of you personally!"

In late spring, or when all the graduates are home for the summer (if they have gone away to college or boarding schools), you and your husband might plan a "Graduates' Blessing". Invite all the graduates to come forward during the worship service, and both of you can congratulate and bless them for their achievements in front of the congregation. Give them each a card with a thoughtful, handwritten message and a carefully selected bible verse from the two of you. 

This way you will have created a way to celebrate with all your graduates without over-taxing your energy, dragging your newborn to dozens of parties, or overdrawing your checking account. And hopefully the spiritual blessing will stand in the memory of your young people for years to come.
~ Abigail

Dear Abigail,
As a PW I am often invited to every birthday party, baby shower and wedding shower -- and I LOVE to attend them!  

We can't afford to buy presents for each one, yet I feel bad if I show up empty handed.  What is the best way to handle this?  I don't want to miss out on important moments in people's lives or offend someone if I go to one party and not another.  But buying gifts for everyone adds up  quickly.

Do you have any ideas or gift suggestions that are both meaningful and budget friendly? ~ Jana

Dear Jana, 
You and PW in MI have a lot in common: an obvious love of people, enjoyment of giving gifts, and a slim budget. 

For celebratory parties where a gift is expected, try shopping at places like Marshalls, TJ Maxx or Ross (assuming you're in the USA) where you can find tasteful and attractive gifts at a very low cost. Some pastor families choose to set aside a percentage of their offering just for this purpose, since there is usually little money left in their budgets otherwise, and they consider the giving of small gifts as part of their ministry.

If you are artistic, you might consistently give a gift that is handcrafted - such as a knitted scarf, or a bookmark with a bible verse in calligraphy, or whatever it is that you do. Or you might volunteer to bring a dish and help with the decorating. This way you can give the gift of your time.

Or, you and your PH may decide that your family policy is to never give gifts at all (unless it is to a family member or extremely close friend). If that is the case, then make sure to apply your policy across the board so no one feels hurt or left out. Instead, you can make it your tradition to give a lovely card with a handwritten message of blessing and encouragement, and a special scripture verse at every occasion.

Whatever you choose is fine, as long as you keep your policy consistent so that people don't feel that you're playing favorites. Most people understand that the pastor's budget can't stretch to give fancy presents at everyone's party, and what they want most is the support of your presence and acknowledgement. 

~ Abigail

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the good stuff #3

>> March 26, 2010

LaVonne writes: 

In the afternoons, unless he is doing visitation he is with us at home. We can go to the park, beach, or zoo if we want. I love that. 

We have wonderful family time. He used to get home from work at 6:30pm and then only have a small amount of family time each day [before he was a minister]. But now, it is so nice to do family things in the daytime. His nights, mornings and weekends might be busy, but afternoons - we love them together.


LaVonne is married to an ordained minister who travels giving seminars. 
Check out their ministry blog at: www.longsontheroadagain.blogspot.com
Or read LaVonne's personal blog at: www.longwaitforisabella.blogspot.com

 


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God Cares

>> March 25, 2010


It was the day before church, and I had way too much to do to get ready. As a typical pastor’s wife, I had placed too many things on my plate for the weekend. I had to finish cleaning and cooking for the company we were having after church, prepare for the children’s class I taught weekly, plan the children’s sermon I was supposed to give, review the books of Esther and Ruth with my boys for Bible Bowl that night, and get ready for the scout meeting I was in charge of as well as a training session I was giving. And of course, I had waited until the last minute to do most of it! As I passed by my middle son, Adam, on my way to vacuum the downstairs I did a double take. The poor child was brushing his hair out of his face so he could eat his lunch without eating his own hair. He desperately needed a haircut. All three boys did actually. The problem is, it costs $45, which we didn’t have, to take them to the barber, and we had another week until payday.

I sighed. I knew this day would come, and I had put it off far too long: the day when I would have to cut their hair rather than taking them to a professional. Prior to this time, my husband would take all three in together to an old fashioned barber shop. But we just couldn’t afford it anymore. I cringed at the thought. There is a reason barbers and beauticians go to school and get paid for what they do. Cutting hair is a messy, time consuming, stressful job. My boys are old enough to care how their hair looks, and old enough to blame me if it turns out bad. Plus, I tend to be a perfectionist, and I keep cutting until it looks right. Which usually means I cut way too much off, and the end result is something of a buzz cut.

So I gathered the supplies, my boys, and my courage. My husband set me up on the back porch with a stool, laid out the various sizes of clipper attachments, and wrapped an old sheet around Adam, the bravest, and most in need of a cut. I prayed, took a deep breath, and went to work. The sound of the vibrating machine in my hand put me in a zone, and I imagined myself as an artist, perfecting a work of art.

Three boys and a lot of hair later, I could finally let out the breath I had apparently been holding. We promised the boys they could play with the hose (while they washed the vehicles) in order to rinse off all the loose hairs from their necks, ears, shoulders and it seems every other part of their bodies. I proceeded to sweep up the porch floor. It was a windy day, so a lot of the hair had already blown away. I thought about all the birds that might use it to soften their nests. However, I still swept up four dustpans full!. It was a strange mixture of brown, blonde and red (each child has a different hair color), and it had to number in the gazillions!


I was suddenly struck with a Bible text: “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31

WHOA!!! As much hair as I just gathered, I was dumbfounded by the thought that God knew exactly how many there were, as well as how many remained on my children’s heads at that very moment. He cares for them that much. He cares for all of us that much. He knows us that well. Nothing happens to us outside of His will. Sure, we may make choices that go against Him, but He still uses those choices to make His glory known. As big as God is, and as much responsibility as he carries, He still is concerned enough for each little sparrow!

What a comforting thought that was for me on that day. Rather than stressing about how itchy I was, and how much I still had to do, I instead grabbed a Ziploc bag and dumped some hair into it. I called my boys to my side and explained the substance of my epiphany. The face on my 5 year old was especially precious as he tried to fathom it. He said, “When I get to heaven, I’m going to ask God how many hairs I have!” As I cuddled with my children, and shared God’s love with them, I felt a sweet peace flood over me. I thought of all the things I needed to do yet, and I gave them to God. He would help me accomplish what needed to be accomplished. Hey, I realized, at least I had my children’s story now!


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hiding in thee

>> March 23, 2010

Nearly every time I put my little boy back to bed after nursing him in the night, he lets out a darling little baby fart. One of the things that's so gloriously wonderful about babies is their complete ignorance of themselves. Here in a world where we're always being told we need to know ourselves, stand up for ourselves, and look within ourselves, I'm convinced that true fulfillment comes from being outside of ourselves. No wonder God told us to be like little children.

I was pondering this state of selflessness recently after another look into the life of Christ. This God-man slept, ate, and breathed the will of His Father, which was to bring light and life to suffering humanity. A quote by Hudson Taylor, early missionary to China, has lodged itself forever in my mind, "Measure your life by loss instead of gain. Not by the wine drunk, but by the wine poured forth. For love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice. And whosever suffereth most hath most to give."

A recent Bible lesson in our church was on meekness, this unassuming state of being which was once considered to be pathetic and weak. To me, meekness looks like being invisible with the image of Christ shining through. I hunger for that invisibility. I am the kind of person who easily takes personal offenses to heart, and I'm often too quick to withdraw from people. I pray for that "Christ esteem." I long to be so unaware of self and so connected with Christ that when negativity comes my way, I can smile knowing that Christ takes it on my behalf.

The other challenge is letting God take things on my husband's behalf. The lady who calls and chews him out for every little thing doesn't have to ruin my day. Or the lady who needs him to know about every good deed she's doing in the community. Or the man who subtly uses his influence to undermine my husband's leadership. I'm sure you all have these kinds of people God is challenging you to love.

You've heard it said that you can never love another person until you've learned to love yourself. I'm not so sure about that. But I do think I can only learn to love these people as I learn to hide myself and my identity, my feelings, and my rights within the Lover of my soul.



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introducing::Adel Torres


For as long as I can remember, the one thing I always wanted was to be a missionary nurse living in a hut in some far-off land, telling the story of Jesus to people who never heard it before. Most nights during my childhood I drifted off to sleep with images of steamy jungles, headhunters, and thatch-roofed huts like in the bedtime stories Mom read to us. My dad was involved in ministry (though not pastoring) and his work took him across the sea on many great adventures. Each time we watched as his aircraft lifted off the runway, I couldn’t wait until the day I was the one taking off.

On one of those trips my daddy didn’t come home, and one little 8-year-old girl began longing for heaven like a grown woman. More than ever, I wanted the world to know the Good News so we could leave this lonely, painful planet behind and have that long-awaited reunion. In high school I found Jesus in a whole new way, and invited God the Father to be MY Father. I earned my nursing degree and watched many runways slip away behind me as I explored horizons told The Story in the Philippines, Albania, Nepal, India, and a few places in between.



I prepared myself for many things, none of which was being married to a pastor. In the midst of wedding and mission plans, God slipped my husband and I a temporary assignment to a 3-church district in what I have heard called “pretty much the only place in California that is just dead.” Many of our church members here have never been outside of California. Once, while I was preparing to share a mission talk, someone looked in the bulletin and asked me, “What is ‘Nepal’?”

After 3 ½ years of restless yearning for slipping runways, I am still struggling to learn the contentment Paul had in whatever state he found himself. I am less likely to attend a women’s ministries meeting or lead out in the Bible lesson than I was when I first came. But here in this “dead” valley of California, I have experienced the most amazing journey ever with the birth of my son in the Fall of ’09. For me, being a mother to my darling son Tobiyah ("Tobi") and a good wife to Jose, the man I love, are 99% of what being a pastor’s wife is all about. The other 1% is available for the church. And 100% of that must be recommitted every day to this God I am still learning to trust.




(I am natural child-birthing, exclusive breastfeeding, non-vaccinating, vegetarian, home-remedying, nature-loving, gardening, stay-at-home, and do-it-yourself. Incidentally, I DO shave my legs.)


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dear abigail::what do I do when my PH needs spiritual revival?

>> March 21, 2010

Dear Abigail,
What should I do if I feel that my PH is in need of a spiritual revival?  
I don't want to judge his personal relationship with the Lord, but as a mom who spends a lot of time at home, I know his schedule quite well.  From what I can see, he does not commit much time to personal Bible study and prayer outside of sermon preparation (which is not much time some weeks).  We don't have a consistent schedule for worship and prayer as a family.  When we do worship or pray together as a family, it seems that I am the one to initiate it most times.  
I want my husband to be the spiritual head of our home regardless of his profession, but it makes me all the more frustrated when there are days he has had prayer with members of the church and not members of his family.  I know I need to pray about this a lot more because I feel myself getting bitter sometimes--and that doesn't make for a great attitude.  Perhaps I'm looking at this the wrong way. 
I'm not sure what to do.  I just want want our family to be saved in God's kingdom and I know that comes from accepting God's sacrifice and having a real relationship with Him.  Please advise.

Thank you,
Wisdom Wanted
Dear Wisdom Wanted,
I think every PW can relate to your question on some level, even if it's only for periods of time in between spiritual vibrance.  It's understandable to feel bitter or frustrated when our PHs - who are supposed to be spiritual leaders to everyone else - drop the ball at home. After all, no matter who they pastor "out there", they are first and foremost the husbands and fathers and priests of our homes. It is a good thing that you are sensitive to your family's need for spiritual growth.

The way we live our lives indicate our priorities, and our children are the first to be able to identify what our real priorities are (vs what we say they are). It’s true that our PHs spend a lot of time in “spiritual matters,” but they will become more successful in every area of their lives if they spend quality personal and family time in worship and prayer. Obviously, you already recognize this, or you wouldn't be longing for more.

Is your PH burnt out in ministry from working too hard and not staying balanced with his rest, exercise, and family time? Is he only holding it together for his public ministry and then letting it collapse at home because he's overwhelmed? Have you/he recently weathered a crisis that has left him dried up in his relationship with God?

Or is his personality quiet and laid-back, where after spending his days talking and listening to others he has nothing left to say at home? If your personality is more bubbly and talkative, he might be perfectly willing to just let you lead at home since he is outside his comfort zone all day every day - and he might have no idea that it bothers you or that he is letting down his family.

Whatever the reason, the first thing to do is pray for your PH. Ask God to work on his heart and on yours too, so that you'll have a Christlike spirit when you communicate about it. When the time is right to bring it up, try expressing your concern and asking if he would pray with you about where the Lord is leading your family spiritually.  If you seek God together, it might be a smoother transition than if you take the lead or verbalize criticism.

Build him up in front of your kids, and make sure he can hear you when you do. Tell the kids how lucky they are to have such a great dad, or get them involved in doing something special for him. However it works best for you and your family's personality, get the whole family to show support for daddy as the well-respected priest of the home. Your children will naturally mirror your attitude of respect or disdain for their father.

Here's the advice of two seasoned PWs:
  1. Pray for your husband. We know our husbands like no one else.  We know their schedules and their “comings and goings,” but we cannot know their hearts like God does. Our prayers on our PH’s behalf will guard us from becoming overly judgmental and will assure us that the Holy Spirit is working. Pray for his spiritual well-being & that God will convict him to lead more at home. Pray for creative, gentle ways to express your longing to him. Pray for your own response when he begins to try!
  2. Talk to your husband. He may also be wishing things were different or he might not even know how strongly you feel. Share how important it is to you that he initiates (versus putting him down or condemning him). Tell him how your admiration and respect for him grows when he leads at home. Tell him it's sexy when he takes charge. (And then be alert to when he does take charge, and applaud him for it - whether it's exactly how you imagined it or not.)

  3. Have your own devotions.

    When your PH sees you reading your Bible, hopefully he will eventually start thinking about reading his Bible as well. With small children you might be lucky to have 10 minutes a day in the word, but try to aim for at least a little time each day - when your husband is home and can see you praying and reading. You can also try asking your PH to read  and pray with you sometimes in the evening if he doesn't get home too late.

  4. Keep up daily family worship. Usually it is possible to be all together in the morning around breakfast. You may have to keep initiating but also ask your PH if he has any new ideas he might like to try. (Being confrontational is usually not the answer.) Continue having evening worship with the kids at bedtime, and share with your husband the cute things that they say during prayers.

    Worships don’t need to be long, dull services, just meaningful praise to God and simple spiritual instruction for the children. Including a song and prayer, 10 minutes is plenty. The habit of worshiping and praying together as a couple and family in the early years will likely prevent conflicts in later years.  It’s a ritual worth cultivating!

  5. Affirm his smallest attempts to take charge. If he tries to call the family for worship, gather the kids immediately and urge them to listen and respond to daddy - even if it is at an inconvenient time of day, or isn't what you'd planned. Some men give up easily if their efforts to lead are ignored, rejected, or criticized. Leave the constructive comments for a few months down the road and rejoice when he tries to fulfill his role at home.  
Read the book, "Wild At Heart" by John Eldridge, to discover more insights into your PH's masculine soul. Remember, things may not get better right away (they may even get worse), but don't get discouraged.

And by all means, when God works out a change in your family, let ABIGAIL know about it so we can rejoice with you!

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the good stuff #2

>> March 19, 2010

A couple of weeks ago we were having family worship as early morning sunshine streamed through our window. 

I listened to my husband's voice reading Scripture, while the baby nursed contentedly. And I couldn't help but thank God that my husband is a pastor. If he'd gone into international banking (as he originally planned, years ago), he'd probably be rushing out the door right now for a long commute in 6:45 AM traffic.

But instead he's here, and we're spending a little quality morning worship time. 
Today, I'm glad I'm a PW!

Got something you're thankful for about PW life? 
Send your "good stuff" to: clutchtalk (at) gmail (dot) com.
 
© CLUTCH, 2010 unless otherwise sourced.
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what’s in a name?

>> March 18, 2010

What’s in a name? What is so important about a title? The importance lies in the identity that name or title places upon the bearer—whether that identity is in fact authentic or not. As the wife of a pastor, I am often given a title that may or may not appropriately belong to me.

There is the ubiquitous “Pastor’s Wife.” Most of my church members introduce me as “the Pastor’s wife,” and often neglect to even mention my name. I guess that is my name. The name implies that I am who I am because of the fact that I am married to a pastor—or The Pastor. Of course that is true, somewhat. I am who am because of the life I have lived with my husband, and the life I have lived in service to the Lord. But isn’t my husband who he is because of the fact that he is married to me? No one ever call’s him “Julie’s husband,” or “the Pastor’s Wife’s Husband.” No, he is simply “The Pastor.”

Then there is the title “First Lady,” which I never heard until we took a multicultural church. I’m not sure how that one makes me feel. Does that mean I have to always act like a “lady?” I am definitely not the perrineal lady. I prefer to live in sweats or jeans and sneakers, and I am the first one to change out of my church clothes after the church service—even if there are more events to come during the day. Plus, I have three boys and a very boyish husband; so being ladylike is not very fitting. And what about “first?” Is that referring to my status, or my timeliness? Because I am not the most punctual of people. In fact, as long as I arrive within 5 minutes of the start time—before or after—then I consider myself on time. (Whereas my husband feels that if you are “just” on time, then you are in fact late!)

I have other titles as well. There’s “Sister Pastor,” “Mrs. Pastor,” and even “Sister Brad.” (My husband’s name is Brad). Some call me "Sister Julie," "Sister Cassell," or even one young man calls me "Dr. C," (don't ask me why!). But not many people call me by just my name, with no title attached. Is that out of respect, or is it a barrier? Is it related to how hard it is for pastoral spouses to find a true friend in their church? (But we’ll discuss that in another post.)

So, who am I? I don’t really mind being called all of the aforementioned titles, as long as I know who I am. All I know is that I am Julie. I am the wife of a pastor, and the mother of three crazy but precious boys. But more than that, I am who I am because of my position in Christ. Because Jesus died on the cross for me, I can call God my Father. He calls me by name, and He knows my innermost being. He loves me for who I am, and for who He created me to be. I am the daughter of the King. So I guess that means you can just call me “Princess Julie.”

© CLUTCH, 2010 unless otherwise sourced.
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>> March 17, 2010

Introducing a new blogger::

Hey, Ya’ll. (No, I’m not Paula Dean, the famous down-home cook from Georgia, although I do like her cooking!) I am Julie Cassell. A GRIT. A girl raised in the south. However, I have spent 1/3 of my life in the north, so I consider myself as a 3rd culture Southerner. I’m sure you’ll hear more about that at a later date.


I am a pastor’s wife living in metro-Atlanta (on the other side of Atlanta from Sarah). Brad and I married in 1995, although the two years we dated we were ministering together in a church plant. Wow, as I think about it I can’t believe it has been that long. He has been a senior pastor since 1997, beginning in Pennsylvania, and now in Georgia for the last 3 ½ years.


We have three beautiful children—all boys. They are the life blood that flows through my veins! My boys are 11, 9 and 5, and I homeschool them all. Whew! My oldest is on the autism spectrum, so I have a heart for special needs ministry. I am a former full time teacher, but am loving teaching my own children—most of the time!


When I am not homeschooling my kids, I am very active in children’s, family and women’s ministries at our local church. I also speak and provide ministry training and leadership across the Eastern Coast. I enjoy reading and writing, and when I can I escape to Barnes and Noble. I love music and singing, cooking and baking; and I make a little extra money selling homemade bread and granola.

I majored in English Literature/Creative Writing at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, and mastered in Religious Education at Andrews University in Michigan. My dream is to attain my doctorate and become a college professor. But for now, I am focused on raising my boys to be godly men, and serving God and my husband.


I look forward to sharing and growing with you all!

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keeping our children's hearts

>> March 16, 2010

"Mom, I'm so happy to be part of this family. I'm glad you and Dad give us consequences so we learn how to be better." 

Wow! Hearing those words from my 12-year-old son made me want to melt, cheer from the roof-tops and hug him like crazy all rolled into one! 

We've been struggling with pre-adolescent attitudes lately and wondering how to keep close while still keeping in control. These words made me glimpse a little bit that what we are doing IS making a difference.

As I was growing up, I had lots of friends that were PK's (pastor's kids). And now with the wonderful world of social networking, I've reconnected with many of them. Unfortunately, my heart is sad to see how things have turned out for them. Downhill. Totally living for self. What happened? 

But isn't that so often what DOES happen with pastor's kids? 
Why do PK's so often choose the opposite of how they've been raised?

These are questions that have been on my heart since my husband started pursuing pastoral ministry 2 1/2 years ago. We're in the beginning stages right now, with Brad taking classes towards his theology degree and serving as the assistant pastor at our local church. But we've already seen how demanding of my hubby's time this life can be. Very rewarding, but busy.

So, is it just something that I need to resign myself to? "Teens will be teens" and "Kids will be kids"? Is it inevitable that pastor's kids will go through rebellion, maybe finally choosing a different way than we so desire for them? Do our children have to go through that "stage?"

I submit that the answer can be "No." In reading a book by Steve and Teri Maxwell entitled "Keeping the Heart of Your Children," I've seen that it isn't necessary for our kids to have to go through a time period where they hate their parents and rebel. Yes, they will become independant, but they don't have to do that with an attitude!

Before going back to school, my husband was a boys' residence dean at a boarding high school. This was not a place for troubled kids, but so often we saw issues that the teens had that, as we worked with the parents, we saw stemmed from their upbringing. Scary! I'm sure you would agree with me that the greatest desire of your heart is for your children to be true followers of Jesus. 

So, how do we do it!!???

I don't have all the answers and there are very many days when I feel like I'm at the bottom of the expert pile! But I feel that God is bringing the subject of keeping my children's hearts to the forefront of my mind and giving me ideas of how to do just that. Praise Him for sure, since I tend to revert to how I was raised: hollering and yelling, when left to my own ways.

So... take some time today to think about your PK's. 

Do you have their hearts? Who would they rather spend time with the most? How do they respond to correction? Is their heart turned to God? Or is it turned to whatever their friends are into? How much time do you spend together as a family as opposed to how much time your kids are elsewhere?
Let's answer those questions in our hearts and then talk to God. Ask Him if there is something we can do to show our kids that above everything, we love them so much. We love them enough to raise them with a higher view in mind... heaven. 

It's really easy to let the world's ways and views take over in our own homes. Let's pray that God can put a hedge of angels around our children and protect them from the strong pull of the world, which eventually pulls them away from us as their parents and ultimately, away from God.
I'm praying for all us moms (and dads) who want to keep our children's hearts!

 © CLUTCH, 2010 unless otherwise sourced.
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introducing a new columnist:: AMY

>> March 15, 2010

Amy Foote Minett writes from the West Coast of the United States as a PW who is fairly new to all this, since her husband changed careers to become a pastor after they were already married with children.

The last couple of years have brought my husband (Brad) my 4 beautiful children and me through some big life changes. After 9 years of working in schools with teens, God impressed us to pursue pastoral ministry. 

So now we live in South Lake Tahoe, CA where we juggle my husband's college classes towards a theology degree and his work as assistant pastor of our church, my homeschooling the kids and my home biz with Usborne Books, and all the other things we just seem to say "Yes" to (including my first 1/2 marathon in May!!!).

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the good stuff #1

>> March 12, 2010

Yes, the weekends are busy. We won't deny it.

But how many other grown men get to take a family day in the middle of the week to compensate for working all weekend? Spending Mondays with my PH and our little Goober is definitely something I wouldn't trade easily!

Got something you're thankful for about PW life? Send your "good stuff" to: clutchtalk (at) gmail (dot) com.
© CLUTCH, 2010 unless otherwise sourced.
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the good stuff...

>> March 11, 2010

Being a PW is hard work. Some days are heartbreaking, other days bring joyous rewards.

In the middle of surviving the busyness, the taking care of people's needs, the serving others whether our own needs have been met or not, the living in a fishbowl... you get the idea.

In the middle of all that - it's easy for us to forget the great things about being married to a pastor. 

It's easy to get swept up in the chaos, or the sheer volume of need, or even the boring routine of it all - and forget that God led us to a special life of ministry. 

So, to help us remember, Fridays are hereby dedicated to "the good stuff" - at least for a while. To remind us as we head into the weekend, that there are definitely perks to being a PW. 

"the good stuff" is also an open forum. If you've got something about PW life that you're especially thankful for, send us an email and we'll post your good stuff on an upcoming Friday! 

Feel free to include a photo to illustrate. Please include your name, city/state/country, and a valid email address in case we need to clarify anything (emails will NOT be included in your post).

Send your "good stuff" to: clutchtalk (at) gmail (dot) com.


© CLUTCH, 2010 unless otherwise sourced.
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haiti update...

>> March 9, 2010

Several weeks ago, I proposed the idea that we PWs might try to lend some support to our fellow PWs suffering in Haiti after the earthquake. I haven't posted about it since, because I've been waiting on responses to several queries I've sent out to people with connections there.

I have several friends who have been working in Haiti since immediately after the quake. They are non-profit aid workers who go all over the world doing disaster relief. They've told me that the situation in Haiti was so bad that they didn't recommend us pursuing contact with PWs there until some kind of infrastructure has been reestablished for basic necessities and government. 

In the meantime, I've been making inquiries at Christian organizations outside of Haiti who have contacts there. And I'm still waiting for more information.... The wheels grind slowly...

But I wanted you to know that I haven't forgotten about it, or dropped the idea. I'll be sure to post news about anything we can do to help, just as soon as I get firm details. 

And until then, even though the news networks around the world have moved on to whatever is the latest, let's remember that the hardest times of healing come after the world has forgotten the shock value of the disaster. 

I hope very much that we can still find a way to express our care and support to the PWs who are serving their congregations throughout the aftermath.




© CLUTCH, 2010 unless otherwise sourced.
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is your cart too full?

>> March 8, 2010


Sometimes as girlfriends in the ministry it's so hard to balance it all.

The cell phone is ringing, guests are coming over, the baby needs to be changed, and you have yet to get into the word or get plugged in for yourself. However we still find time to blog, twitter, check facebook (and let's not forget texting)! We seem to find the time for the things we want to do and desire to do, but the things that are most important get brushed under the rug.

Let's pretend our life is a grocery cart - or buggy, depending on the area of the country you live in. All the things that we're doing pile up as we shop through life. Daily tasks, business and life fill our carts, but at what cost?

We ask God to give us things, not just material possessions but also ministries, and we ask for opportunities. Then when he gives them to us we end up pushing these carts that are full to overflowing. We've lost the simplicity of "drop everything and follow him". Our carts are so full that we have lost sight of our neighbors, the grocery clerk, and the moms in the park.

I know in ministry our lives are already so full, and we share our husbands and we are under a microscope, but do we count the cost? We can always take our carts and walk back through life and put things back on the shelf.

We want and we want and we want - but so often we don't think of what the cost is going to be. We walk through life thinking we have to have this ministry or we have to have this item and the fact is we can't afford it! In our spiritual lives are we really ready for what we're asking God to give us? Can we really afford it? We each determine what our cost is going to be.

Luke 9 talks about the cost of following Jesus.
"As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
He asked his disciples to leave it all and just follow him.
No procrastination.
No backward looks.

You can't put God's kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day. Girlfriends, it may mean taking the coffee date with our bff out of the cart to make time to meet with a single mom. It may mean inviting someone into our home that will stay all day. It may take you emptying your whole cart and putting it on the shelf and having a zero balance at the register so you can be available.

It cost Jesus everything for you and me to be free, what will it cost us to see just one other person follow him? Are we being personally effective and making a difference? Or, as my friend Brandi Wilson posted recently, are we only effective by association? Wow.

In Matthew 7 it says we will be recognized by our fruit. Are we counting the cost and bearing healthy luscious fruit or are we allowing our carts to fill up and squash the fruit? What are our priorities?

So here are my questions:
Is your cart full of the things you have asked God for?
Are you effectively counting the cost?
Are you willing to leave those things behind and put them back on the shelf to follow his commands in the uncomfortable places where no one is looking, and where your effectiveness is not based on your church?

Can't wait to read your responses!

© CLUTCH, 2010 unless otherwise sourced.
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what message do we send?

>> March 4, 2010

Lots of people have mixed message about organized "religion" in today's society. And sometimes we as Christians don't help sort out the confusion.

As PW's, we have the opportunity to help our husbands influence how people view God and the church. Here's what one church did to communicate to people around them. What does your church do?



© CLUTCH, 2010 unless otherwise sourced.
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bon voyage!

>> March 3, 2010

lessons from the bus (part 1)
mapping = community connection


Four months after arrival in this French-speaking country, we finally had enough French up our sleeve that we were ready to try the city bus system.

This may sound a little strange, but there is absolutely no bus map and limited information on where the buses go, except for the bus windows and some limited information on the bus website. Each bus has a number and a sign saying where its final destination will be, so you would think that was helpful. Yet, our city map did not have those destinations and what if we wanted to get off at a different place?

We explained our plight to a few people, but they only told us “Oh, just take the Car Rapide on that street and get off at…” Okay, so there are four types of buses here: The regular blue city bus, a smaller white city bus and two other buses that would be a hybrid system of city bus and taxi, one of which is called Car Rapide. So, their responses didn’t help because the Car Rapides are not marked and go wandering all over the place.

The easiest thing was just keep trekking all over the city on foot, as we had been doing, or take a taxi. The first is not always time efficient and the latter is expensive.

One day, our French professor gave us a few of the main blue bus numbers and their general route. Wonderful! Armed with this information we headed out for a new adventure. All too soon we found out that it wasn’t as easy as our professor made it out to be. Was this because of the system? Or was it because of our Western mindset?

I wanted a neatly mapped-out set of routes that told me where all the stops were. As I looked around I began see that maybe I was the only one who needed a neat map that fed my individualistic culture.

As our experiences (more of those later) on the bus system have broadened, over and over I see the need to get out of my shell and ask the people. Everyone here knows something about the bus system and with each person talked to, a more complete map is created. Not on paper, but in our minds.

I cannot help but think of our lives as Christians, and even as PWs. How often do we prefer a neat map for our lives or our roles in ministry? A map that clearly defines what, when, and how we should do something while also setting some boundaries for others on our time and space?

Yet life in ministry is more akin to African culture. It flourishes best with community. When the time is taken to stop, listen and talk with our parishioners and learn from their experiences and observations, we soon find we have a much better working map in our minds of the church congregation and our role.

I am drawn to John 14:1-9. Here Jesus builds up to the verse “I am the way...no one comes to the Father except through Me.” And then he delineates further. Clearly the map to heaven is a relationship. Is it possible that the map of ministry is relationship as well?

If this is the case, this is good news indeed! No need to be intimidated by what a congregation will think of us, our husbands or our ministry. Build a relationship with Jesus, build a relationship with the people and the map will be made clear.

It is not easy and will require getting out of our comfort zone. Yet that is what we have been called to do: serve others through relationship.

This is only one application of my experience. I am interested to hear other applications that you may see from this mapping = community connection idea. Let me know what you think and how this can apply to our everyday life.

© CLUTCH, 2010 unless otherwise sourced.
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introducing a new columnist:: LaRAE

>> March 2, 2010

LaRae Coleman Papendick is our second new columnist. LaRae writes as a missionary wife and young mother serving in West Africa.
I was born into a family that was uniquely positioned to give me the best of so many worlds. I am the youngest of four kids by eight years, so I had the best of siblings and the best of being an only child. My dad is a pastor and  was a chaplain in the Air Force, so I had the best of pastoral ministry in its usual sense as well as the wonderful side of military life. 
We lived in many places but always visited our relatives who never moved, so it was like coming home every time we visited them, while still being able to see the world.

My whole life has been one of twists and turns so that at each new phase I start to see the fitting together of the jigsaw puzzle of my life. For example, I met my husband once while in high school. We had a half hour walk together and then did not meet again for seven years. Just under two years later we married. It will be five years here this May and I am increasingly thankful to God for working with my stubbornness to bring us together because we are a perfect match. He is also a pastor’s kid and we have many common experiences and friends from our growing up years, though we lived in different states and countries.

We have a two and a half year old 100% boy. Need I say more? He is super amazing and constantly amuses and frustrates me all at the same time! Why God would ever allow us selfish humans to raise another human boggles my mind. My constant prayer is that God will change my heart so I can be the mother He wants me to be.

My husband and I are Public Health Professionals currently starting a project in West Africa. It is a project the evolves from day to day as we learn to wait on God for His leading. Maybe someday I can share this aspect of my life journey with you. Though we are not exactly a pastoral team, we find that due to our upbringing and personal experiences we identify more with our friends who are in pastoral ministry than we do with being parishioners.

I have so many interests that sometimes it is hard for me to focus. I love piano, horses, beaches, sunrises, sunsets, reading, organizing, traveling, experimenting and my nephews and nieces. I'm also learning to love sewing, cooking, writing, and inventing. And I am taking up the new interest of language learning. French, Arabic and some tribal languages are on my plate for the next few years.
© CLUTCH, 2010 unless otherwise sourced.
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dear abigail::learning names...

>> March 1, 2010

Dear Abigail,
Our family moved to a new church about 2 1/2 months ago.  This church is bigger than our last one and it's taking quite awhile to learn names.  What do you suggest I do to learn names and get to know our members better in these early months?
Thanks,
CJ

Dear CJ,
There are many ways to get to know your new church members. The question is how much time you have each week and how big your congregation is. If it's a smallish congregation, and you have the time, you can invite over the families for a game night or for Friday night spaghetti or whatever is your style. 

If your church is bigger, you could host an "open house" in your home and invite your congregation to a come-and-go event. Provide finger foods and drinks, and let everyone mingle at their leisure. As guests arrive, snap a polaroid photograph of each couple or family, and have them sign their names on a small card or paper to go with their picture. After the dinner you can put the photos and signatures into a scrapbook for dual duty: to help jog your memory for their names, and to create a keepsake of your early days in this congregation. 

For learning names, here are a few tricks to consider:
  • when you meet a member for the first time, ask their name, and then repeat it several times during the conversation immediately following, i.e.: "It's nice to meet you Kelly! So, Kelly, how long have you been attending here?" You might feel a little corny, but repeating their name several times while looking at their face will help cement the name into your memory.
  • if it's a difficult or unusual name, ask them how it's spelled 
  • if it's a common or easy name, try to figure out an association to go with it such as: Jack Smith, with black hair (Jack rhymes with black), etc...
  • if you can, keep a pack of 3x5 cards handy, with one card per family. Write down names and add any pertinent details about them - church positions, age of children, shared hobbies or whatever else might help you remember
In addition, don't be afraid to just admit it when you forget. Remind people, in good humor, that while they have only two or three new names to learn, you have 150 (or however many people are in your new church). Tell them that you want very much to get to know them, and ask them to please feel free to remind you of their names each time you see them, to help you out. 

Just knowing that you're trying is enough to make them feel loved and cared about! 

Abigail

© CLUTCH, 2010 unless otherwise sourced.
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