SURVIVAL TIP #11

>> February 25, 2011

TIP #11: Get a system down for "unexpected guests". 

Unlike many jobs, pastors often have traffic at home because of their ministry. Like it or not, that often means that the PW gets the lucky role of last-second-hostess.

Of course, we hope your husband is sensitive enough to know when a drop-in guest would completely overwhelm your family. But lots of times a little down-home hospitality can go a long way in making someone feel loved. And isn't that what ministry is really all about?

So, if you don't already have one, the smart PW develops her own system for making unexpected guests comfortable.

You might have a linen closet that always has a clean set of sheets ready, or a yummy-smelling candle in the guest room, or a special way of leaving out fresh towels... Or you might just have a stack of fresh bedding that you spread out on the couch! It's totally up to you. 

However you do it, it doesn't have to be luxe. Just authentic and kind. It's about the spirit of warmth and welcome. And about paying attention to little things that make a guest feel at home.

Guaranteed, a warmly welcomed guest won't ever forget your kindness!
 
Got a survival tip that someone shared with you, or that you learned along the way? Send it in and we'll share it: clutchtalk [at] gmail [dot] com.

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fish bowl...

>> February 21, 2011



LaRae and her husband are missionaries in a Muslim country in West Africa, where they are developing a public health clinic to serve the medical needs of the people in their village. They live with occasional electricity and running water, and have a son who is 3 years old.

I suspect that most all of you reading this blog can understand the fish bowl experience. You know, where everyone watches everything you do and discusses it, sometimes giving you their unsolicited opinion?  

There were times growing up that I remember being angry that my parents were asking me to submit my feelings and desires to the example that I should live as a Christian. My parents were very wise and made it clear that this example was asked of me by God, not just because I was the pastor’s daughter. Somehow, they were able to get this point across to me without me being angry or bitter at God. 

It made sense and I knew that God would provide the strength I needed. Even though I'm human and I often have my “poor me, I have to be responsible” attitude. Yet, the experiences made me a better person and in many ways more able to submit to God’s calling on my life than I would be naturally. (I  still need to learn to submit without having my pouting spell first, though!)

The fish bowl experience has become very literal here in Africa where we live now. There are bars on the windows of our house, but no screens yet. 


The kids here are very curious and like to climb up the bars and peer into the house to see what we have or what we are doing. It took a while to get curtain rods and make curtains, and there are still some windows and doors that are not covered. There is no end to the kids climbing and looking. 

I feel like a broken record sometimes: “Don’t climb the window!” I say it over and over to the same kids day in and day out. Some are starting to learn, but not all.

Some days I get so impatient and angry. There have been times when I haven't treated the kids as I believe Jesus would treat them. Then I feel guilty and I reflect on my example. Why do I get so upset? Why can’t I be more creative in dealing with this situation? When I lose my temper and lose my focus on Jesus -- my example is also lost.

Jesus lived day in and day out with 12 men, and to a great degree in front of the eyes of anyone who  chose to follow Him and “look into His windows.” Yes, he took time to be alone and pray, but for the most part He lived in a fish bowl.


LaRae's African house and garden


Today I realized that there are others who watch my every move, even if they aren't climbing my windows. I choose to teach my 3 year old son to sit with me during church, sit still (for the most part) and be quiet. He is required to kneel when we kneel, stand when we stand, show reverence during prayer and whisper if he must say something.


Sometimes I feel overly strict, especially since most kids here are allowed to wander in and out of church and don't show any respect for prayer or the worshipers. But in church today I noticed another mother being more attentive to how her 4 year old was acting.

Somehow her action struck me hard. This wasn’t the only thing the church members have changed since we came. Mind you, this is a very small church so it's easy to watch each other. :) 

Without ever saying a word about how to parent, how to behave in church, how to... I was seeing others start to mimic my behaviors and ask my advice. It made me ask myself some tough questions. What example am I setting? Is the way I live leaving a mark that will bless and enhance life here or will it have a negative effect? What perception of God and faith am I giving?

Not only are church members and children watching, but the whole village AND my own son.  God, help me surrender my selfishness to You and live to You!

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

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SURVIVAL TIP #10

>> February 18, 2011

TIP #10: Be real. 

Be yourself.

Depending on your congregation's expectations, you might have total freedom or you might get lots of subtle (or overt) comparisons to "the last pastor's wife".

Let people have their opinions. Nothing you say is likely to change their minds anyway. Instead, be real. Be no one else but the woman God has made you.

Own your identity. Be unafraid of doing what YOU are gifted at, rather than getting pressured into doing what other people wish you were good at. That doesn't mean you might not try some new things, and it's not an excuse to refuse to do anything at all.

Just don't get all caught up in trying to be somebody you're not. It doesn't do your congregation any favors, and it only makes you feel like a stressed out fraud.

Ask God what HE wants you to do. If he challenges you with something you're not naturally good at, embrace the challenge and let yourself grow. But if it's just external expectations, stand firm and say "No thanks, I'm more called to serve in a different capacity."
 
Got a survival tip that someone shared with you, or that you learned along the way? Send it in and we'll share it: clutchtalk [at] gmail [dot] com.

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on a day for romance...

>> February 14, 2011

A few weeks ago, I was going through the room in our house that used to be my "office". Now it's going to be the nursery - once baby #2 arrives this spring.

As I sorted boxes that had been stuffed in the closet, and sifted papers that had stacked up -- I came across a shoebox of love letters.

I'm a lucky girl. My PH writes. He writes cards, emails, letters. Occasionally even notes (although not as often). I have a card from him, with way more than a signature inside, for nearly every holiday and event over the past 10 years.

He even writes romantic messages on the little cards they stick into bouquets. I have this miniature Hallmark envelope where I've kept every card from every significant bouquet.

There's one from every anniversary. One or two from "apology flowers" after we'd had a fight. One is in Italian, from the gorgeous yellow and pink roses he managed to get delivered to my classroom in Florence, Italy, during the summer I spent studying abroad in our 2nd year of marriage. (He was stuck in summer classes at seminary and couldn't come.) That made an impression on my classmates!

I used to keep the tiny envelope of them in my bible, where I could pull them out and remind myself how blessed I am to be loved by a godly man. Then my son got old enough to paw through my stuff, and I had to find a safer place!

As I organized, I almost threw away a card with Russian words across the top. My Russian isn't as great as it used to be, but I still can read that it says "Happy Birthday". I grabbed it back from the trash pile, to double check who it was from.

...my studly pastor-husband...
Inside, a piece of paper was glued in, with typed English words. And then I remembered...

In 2008, my job took me to Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod to lecture about reaching young postmodern adults at an evangelism training session for pastors from across Russia. It was the first time in our marriage that we hadn't spent my birthday together. Somehow he managed to find a way to order a huge hand-delivered bouquet of roses and a chocolate cake to the place I was staying! To this day he refuses to divulge his secret strategy on pulling that off. :)

Definitely not throwing THAT birthday card away!

Now, I know that not every man might show his feelings in the same ways that mine does. Not every husband is a great romantic writer. Not every husband remembers to buy flowers, or goes to great lengths to deliver a chocolate birthday cake on the opposite side of the world.

But there are reasons you love him, just the same. There are things he does that make you melt now and then. There are aspects about him that you admire, and appreciate, and trust.

Yes, Valentine's Day may be a contrived holiday that mostly benefits big business, but it's still a good reminder to let him know all those things that you love about him. Tell him why you adore him. Affirm his calling. Let him know how proud you are to be his wife, his lifetime companion. Puff him up a bit with all your compliments. It'll do his heart good.

And if for some reason this isn't a happy time in your marriage, if you're having a hard time remembering just why it was that you fell in love with him in the first place, then maybe it's a good time to get help. To start fresh. To commit to rebuilding what once was.

Whatever the state of your romance, today is an opportunity to make things beautiful again.

Happy Valentines!




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intimate history

>> February 13, 2011

This post is for the ministry families out there that are “going through stuff.” Everyone encounters trials and it can be difficult to celebrate, be romantic, have a cheerful attitude when money is more than tight; it’s short! When there is so much stress and frustration in the air; it seems like it’s better to be silent. When the kids are smarting off as a result of the tension in the house and nothing seems to be going right.

I would like to introduce the concept of intimate history. What is intimate history? I read a book by Serita Jakes; Bishop TD Jakes wife entitled Beside Every Good Man. She explains on pages 102-105 that intimate history is:

· Trials suffered together
· Goals accomplished together
· Seasons celebrated together

Wow, that is so true! So as you are going through what you are going through remember that you are building intimate history. According to Serita Jakes, shared history binds you together; I agree. So in the midst of your trial know you are building shared history, which will in time make your relationship stronger.

Father, I pray for my CLUTCH friends that are going through various situations. I ask in the name of Jesus that you begin to turn things around even now. Let them grasp the revelation that what they are going through today has the potential to make their relationships stronger; that difficult situations are good for our development. Give them the wisdom and the insight to handle each situation according to your will. Give them favor in areas they need favor, protection in areas they need a covering and if today there is someone out there who is at the end of their rope, Father I ask that you lengthen their cords and strengthen their stakes. That the Holy Spirit will infuse them with the ability to go on. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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SURVIVAL TIP #9

>> February 11, 2011

TIP #9: Absolutely REFUSE to gossip. 

People love to talk. No matter how new you are to being a PW, you've probably already noticed the gossips!

The funny thing is, gossips assume that the PW needs to know their opinions about everything and everyone else. But politeness doesn't require you to listen.

In fact, people will respect and trust you far more if you don't. (Even if they get miffed when you refuse to listen.)

It's perfectly okay, (in fact it's a very good idea!) to absolutely refuse to participate in any gossip of any kind.

When people come to you to "share" things that are negative or aren't their right to share, it's okay for you to kindly say "Thank you for trusting me with that information, but I'd rather not talk about people who aren't here to defend themselves." Or some variation that feels right for you.

And when people ask you for information that you know because of your husband's position, it's okay to tactfully refuse to spill. In fact, it's probably the smartest thing you can do!

Got a survival tip that someone shared with you, or that you learned along the way? Send it in and we'll share it: clutchtalk [at] gmail [dot] com.

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it's the inside that counts...

>> February 7, 2011



LaRae and her husband are missionaries in a Muslim country in West Africa, where they are developing a public health clinic to serve the medical needs of the people in their village. They live with occasional electricity and running water, and have a son who is 3 years old.


One morning we sat down to a yummy breakfast of cornbread. We all salivated to sink our teeth into the soft, warm moistness.

But when we took a bite, what a disappointment! The outside was tough and almost too hard to chew!

What? I make cornbread all the time. What went wrong? Then it hit me, I forgot the oil. We all had a good laugh.

But hey, I thought, being a Christian is like that too. We can "have it all together", look perfect on the outside, and have a good "fragrance"... But at the end of the day, if we don't have the oil of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we end up being tough and not so enjoyable for those who want to "taste" the realness of our connection with God.

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SURVIVAL TIP #8

>> February 4, 2011

TIP #8: Bring a dish. 

Every church has events that center around food. And even the most understanding church members still like to see their PW join in.

You don't have to stock the entire food table. You don't have to bring multiple entrees. It doesn't even have to be home made if cooking isn't your thing... (Although lots of church members do love bragging on their PW's recipes!)

But whether or not you're a foodie isn't the point. The point is that people feel loved and supported when the PW acts like part of the family.

So even if it just means dropping by the grocery store to pick something up, it's more about the gesture than about the recipe.

Got a survival tip that someone shared with you, or that you learned along the way? Send it in and we'll share it: clutchtalk [at] gmail [dot] com.

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video interview::Sheila Poole

>> February 3, 2011


CLUTCH friends, isn’t it exciting to hear from other Pastors Wives? The bible teaches that iron sharpens iron, and this year on the Wholehearted column you can expect to hear from great Women of God. Our line-up is currently being developed. I am so excited as I type, because yours truly will be doing the video interviews!

I'll be interviewing Pastors’ Wives, First Ladies and Women in Ministry who are impacting, influencing and inspiring the world around them.

First on the lineup for 2011 is Pastor Sheila D. Poole. Sheila is a wife, mother, pastor, author and motivational speaker. She and her husband Pastor Robert Poole are founding pastors of Destiny Christian Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. We had an outstanding time together via Skype™ -- so before you click play, grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy our heart to heart.

Part 1:
video

Part 2:
video

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why I'm afraid I'll never be a good pastor's wife...

>> February 2, 2011

Adel Torres writes from California, where she is a wife to Pastor Jose, and mother to Toby. Adel is a missionary at heart, and spent time in India, Nepal, and other countries before marrying a pastor in the States. This deeply transparent post was originally published on Adel's blog "This Journey, My Home", where she writes about her life, insights, and stories. 
Disclaimer: When I wrote this, I'd just had an "aha" moment where I realized that my sense of unfitness isn't from trying to meet someone else's or my own unreasonable expectations. Rather, my feeling of being misplaced has to do with my own belief system. This is in no way an effort to discredit or discourage pastors, or even an attempt to justify my stance. It's simply venting my confusion...

Whenever I say to someone that I don't feel like a good pastor's wife, I'm asked what I expect a pastor's wife to look like and if I'm trying to meet an unreasonable standard.

I don't know how to answer.

I'm the biggest believer in "being myself" and yet, strangely, I have found it virtually impossible to be true and honest in the position I am in. How does a pastor's wife struggle with challenges in her own relationship with God without discouraging others? How does a woman with a quick, sarcastic sense of humor CONSTANTLY bite her tongue? How does a pastor's wife take hugs from people who are professionals at back-stabbing her husband?

The answer, of course, is to love as God loves, but sometimes that's easier said than done. In the meantime, I can be the picture of serenity and sweetness while inside I am a brewing volcano of frustration. Or suppressing laughter for some irony I've noticed that would be scandalous to point out.

Of one thing I am convinced: I desperately need to experience God's love so that I can be more gracious with others. That is something that I EARNESTLY pray for, and often I am so discouraged by my own hardness!!!!

But I'm sure I'm not the first pastor's wife to struggle with that.

There's also a deeper and more perplexing reason I'm afraid I'll never fit in the pastor's wife role. Deep down, I'm afraid I don't really believe in pastoring. I have such a hard time believing that so many Godly, educated, able-bodied men need to babysit populations of informed, capable, well-groomed pew-warmers while more than half of the world is starving to know about Jesus. I wish that the last 4 1/2 years had convinced me of the need for such a thing, but instead I have seen congregations in which part of the people resist leadership while those who don't resist are mature enough to lead themselves (and maybe some overlap between the two).

As I understand it, (at least in the worldwide denomination we serve) roughly 10% of American resources go to reach the 60% of the world that is untouched by the gospel. That means 90% of money, supplies, and people-power is spent on the 40% who are Christians or who already know about Christianity and don't want to be Christians.

That is a really big deal to me, and I can't seem to get over it no matter how much I pray for contentment in the role that I am in. "No one should hear the gospel twice," says a friend of ours, "as long as there are people who have never heard it once." Believe me, I see an allegory of this played out every week at potluck (especially at the dessert table). I believe in this strongly.

But I am obviously missing something, because I believe God led us into pastoral ministry, and that He has continued to do so. I've been waiting a long time for the Mission Boat to pick me up, and all the while God has gently been saying to me, "Wrong boat, honey, at least for now." I pick up mission magazines and I don't read them because they make me cry. I can't understand this passion, this burden in my heart that I believe God has put there.

For me, pastoral work and what I have firmly believed is "my overseas mission calling" have been in direct conflict. But this is where God put me. It is agonizing, and confusing. It has taken its toll on my faith.

I don't know what the future holds. God MUST put love in my heart. Will He fill in the missing piece of my belief system so that I see pastoral work as more of a valid and necessary calling? Will I be a pastor's wife forever?? I'm trying SO HARD not to think of that right now! Sometimes I'm thankful I can't see into the future.

Whatever it is, it's in God's hands. Today I'm taking it one day at a time, walking through the doors that open, praying to be a better wife and mother, and learning to trust that God will save the World (with or without me).

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