when being a pastor's wife is hard: peseverance

>> May 31, 2011

Stephanie is The Candid Pastor's Wife. She can’t decide what she wants to be, so she does it all: blogging, neurotic, break-the-mold pastor’s wife, blessed mommy, math nerd, film and commercial actor, virtual assistant, and household deal hunter. Stephanie has been blogging since September 2010, with favorite writing topics including marriage, mission, and beauty outside of culture. Besides loving to work (apparently), she tries to spend all of her free time with her two favorite men: pastor hubby Brad and 15-month old Samuel. She thinks it’s also important to sneak in moments for food-love, laughing in the sunshine, and late-night reading.
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Vocational ministry has the potential to be the most life-giving profession for your husband and family. But all too often, a family with a pastor at its head is worn out, beat down, abused, and just plain fed up!
And for me, when ministry gets tough, I'm ready to quit! Quitting is so easy (you know - in my head. I know that quitting can also be quite difficult.). Sticking it out is hard. Especially when there is some division or other trial that the entire body is facing.
Take Timothy, for example. Paul puts him in charge of the church at Ephesus, and after he's been there for a time, these pockets of people start teaching all kinds of things that are not the true gospel! But he pushes Timothy to stay. In fact, this was probably the most important time for Timothy to be there. Look at what was going on:
As I urged you when I was leaving for Macedonia, stay on in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to spread false teachings, nor to occupy themselves with myths and interminable genealogies. Such things promote useless speculations rather than God’s redemptive plan that operates by faith. But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. Some have strayed from these and turned away to empty discussion. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently. (1 Timothy 1:3-7, NETBible)

The main issue here is that these attendees were not teaching about faith in Jesus Christ; they were offering some other means to redemption. This is a huge issue, and one that needs leadership to guide the members back to the truth. In other words, Timothy was very much needed.
I'm curious if any lesser disagreements were also going around. Maybe about how loud the music was or wasn't, or what nuance of the Law the rabbi did not mention that day, or maybe an Elfa storage shelf was desired for the sandals at the front of the synagogue! OK...I'm making all of that up, but perhaps you have dealt with those sorts of problems in your church body? And perhaps it has caused deep divisions that are taxing to your family?
There are also times when we're ready to quit for our own convenience. Being able to be out of town for a weekend, not just Saturday, would be nice! Not counseling families and members in troubling times sure would take a load off. We can all come up with complaints about ministry life. But the grass is not always greener on the other side. God may want us to stick it out - for the benefit of the church, and likely for our own spiritual formation as well.
I don't want to argue that quitting is not appropriate sometimes. In fact, discerning whether or not your family should press in and press on is one of the most difficult parts of perseverance. I don't think I can give you a tidy, bullet-pointed list to lead you to this answer. There is a season for everything, and if you and your husband and church leadership are all seeking God above everything else, I think He will absolutely communicate His will for your family.
I would love to hear your wisdom on this subject. Leave a comment for us!

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when being a pastor's wife is hard: trials

>> May 25, 2011

Stephanie is The Candid Pastor's Wife. She can’t decide what she wants to be, so she does it all: blogging, neurotic, break-the-mold pastor’s wife, blessed mommy, math nerd, film and commercial actor, virtual assistant, and household deal hunter. Stephanie has been blogging since September 2010, with favorite writing topics including marriage, mission, and beauty outside of culture. Besides loving to work (apparently), she tries to spend all of her free time with her two favorite men: pastor hubby Brad and 15-month old Samuel. She thinks it’s also important to sneak in moments for food-love, laughing in the sunshine, and late-night reading.
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There are times when being a pastor's wife seems unbearable. Something has happened, whether you're aware of it or not, and all of a sudden, you feel like your family, ministry, career, etc. are all crumbling down. And you want to crumble with it.I'm not going to point fingers in this post because I know that congregations and pastors/pastors' families alike can bring pain into ministry. We are all sinners, and we will all seek pleasure over God at some point. Sometimes, our sin leads to pain, especially in ministry. After all, our sin often effects not only us, but also our families, friends, and the members of our church body. While our own actions can certainly throw us into a downward spiral, we also may be experiencing spiritual warfare. Instead of doing something wrong, you may be doing something very, very right - something so God-honoring that Satan wants to throw a ringer in to your life, hoping to trip you up. Hoping to stop the Spirit's work in your life. Private sin, public scandals, demon attacks: all of these can be debilitating to us, our families, and certainly our ministry. What can we do?It is vital for you and your husband to fight sin. Temptation yields its deathly fruit in a heartbeat, and we can't be lazy. But it's not just about rejecting the temptation; when we do sin, we must come to forgiveness and true reconciliation. How do we do these things?Anytime I think of fighting in the spiritual sense, I go to Ephesians 6.

Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace, and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:10-18, NETBible)
There is so much in this section of Scripture that will help us through trials. Most of all, notice that we are to be so bonded to God in thought, action, faith, and word that we are practically wearing Him on us. When was the last time you could say this about your life? That faith clothed you? God's word filled your mind and mouth? Your motions were aligned with His? That every moment was a prayer? Most certainly, wearing the armor of God will help us when we're tempted. But it also helps us fight the enemy. The sword that we use? God's own words. Therein lies the truth. If we know it and preach it to ourselves, it will be much more difficult for the enemy to get us down.But don't forget what happens when you do sin against your husband, children, unbelieving neighbor, church body. You need to go to them. Tell them your heart was wrong. Spell it out, and thank them for the forgiveness they offer you. Then, be reconciled. What I mean is - make it right. If there is any way to mend what you did, do it. And commit to future changes that will heal the hurt.If you ever talk to me about sin, you know what I'm going to say next - You need accountability in your life. Being a pastor's wife doesn't exempt you. Make sure you find someone you can really trust - someone to whom confidentiality is vital - someone who will challenge you to live for God alone.Please help me add to this list - perhaps you have experienced trials caused by you, your husband, a church member, or an unknown source. Answer this in the comments: How did God help you get to healing? Please note: this is not a place to rant - please post comments that are helpful to our fellow sisters.


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permission to learn::religious conviction (4)

Adel Torres writes from California, where she is wife to Pastor Jose, mother to toddler Toby, and is expecting baby #2 later this year. She is a missionary at heart, and spent time in India, Nepal and other countries before marrying a pastor in the States. This series of posts was originally published on Adel's blog "This Journey, My Home", where she writes about her life, insights, and mission stories. 

It’s really amazing what has been accomplished in the name of God.

Elijah scolded King Ahab in his own palace. Mary Magdalene, with her scandalous reputation, appeared brazenly in the presence of “godly” scholars to honor Jesus. David challenged a Giant at least twice his size and with as much more battle experience. I'm so inspired by these and other great people of faith!

“The greatest want of the world is the want of men,” says one of my favorite quotable quotes, “--men who will not be bought or sold;... men who do not fear to call sin by it's right name."

But it’s also disturbing what horrors have been done in God’s name.

Rome ravished thousands of faithful martyrs. Women are brutalized even today. Nations and church board meetings wage war. Demonstrators picket soldiers' funerals. Elderly ladies tell young women they can’t lead out in the church song service because of how they dress or look. Well-studied listeners bravely rebuke preachers for “erroneous” doctrine.

I’m always amazed how a “conviction from God” can make people feel that they have license to be so un-Christlike to each other. It’s nothing less than the spirit of terrorism.

But there isn’t a soul on earth that we can’t learn something from, no matter how wrong we believe they are. Next time you’re confronted with someone you think has it all wrong, maybe ask yourself a few questions:
  • What journey did this person experience in order to arrive at the place they are today? 
  • What might they have been taught that I’ve never heard before? 
  • What kind of pain have they suffered? 
  • What has God done to try to get this person’s attention, how much does He love them? 
  • How is He asking you to represent that love? 
Then open your ears and your heart, whether to the rebellious teenager, the heretical pastor, or the psychic on the corner.
Being willing to learn from a person doesn’t automatically mean adopting their mindset or habits. It is certainly true that some people and belief systems are not safe. I’m not saying that we should subject our minds to things against our faith in order to better understand the world. But when we are exposed to them, which is unavoidable, we should always pray for spiritual eyes, to see people’s hearts.

God views every heart without shading His eyes. And He passionately loves each one! We can learn a great deal about the human heart and mind this way, we can learn to be grateful for a knowledge of God, and we can especially learn about our own prejudices if we are willing to examine ourselves. Everything that comes to us is a gift of learning.

So when SHOULD we stand up to wrong?

One, after we have spent so much time with God that our response to sin is first one of grief, and then indignation for the hurt that it causes.

Two, when we love the person so much that we long for their salvation, and our reaction to wrong is with the idea of doing whatever we can to redeem, not to destroy or discourage.

Remember what Jesus did in the face of the worst evil in the history of the universe? He submitted himself to his enemy, and gave his life to death at the hands of the sinners he loved. Are you willing to do that? If you can't confront wrong without keeping in mind that the doer is a child of a God with a precious heart, you might do well to keep your “righteous” indignation to yourself.

I’m not expert enough to share precisely how to tell the difference between "godly conviction to confront wrong" versus "self-righteous indignation". Each of us comes with our own set of biases that cloud our vision. Familiarity with these is the best defense against confusing them with conviction from God.

I can tell you a few things of which I’m sure: when God compels a man or woman to confront wrong, it does not lead to angry outbursts that disgrace God’s name. It does not wound. It will not make you feel smug and justified!

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) Let’s not get confused between “spiritual forces of evil” and fellow human beings.

So what can we learn from people whom we believe are wrong?

1) About ourselves.
Examine your heart before reacting to error. Are your feelings in line with the Love of God? Be hard on yourself. Identify whether or not your feelings have something to do with things you’ve experienced rather than what you know of God.

2) About what we truly believe regarding the topic at hand. 
It’s easy to respond negatively to something that goes against cherished beliefs, without really examining our beliefs closely. We should be very sure that we are standing by truth, not man’s tradition.

“Study to show yourself approved to God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

3) About life: every person has a different set of life experiences. Every person you meet is a veritable encyclopedia of experiences you’ve never had that could help you understand our world better.

4) How to be more Christlike.
Patience, compassion, humility... If we can practice applying these attitudes to people who rub us the wrong way, we are on our way to being more like the Master, and it will come more naturally the next time.

5) That every person has a journey to walk with God.
A wayward kid is no more of a Christian after you scold him for the music he’s listening to. If he truly doesn’t know God, pray for God to reveal Himself and then represent Christ-likeness in your actions. If the kid DOES have a relationship with God, trust that the Holy Spirit will convict them of what is right, when the time is right. As PWs we have to be careful not to try to be the Holy Spirit to someone else. That's blasphemy.

Even parents, senior pastors, and regional church leaders are on a journey.

They are human. They stumble and reach out to grasp the hand of God just like anyone else. Their journey is often more painful because that they are held to a higher standard. We can do a great deal to encourage or discourage our spiritual leaders by our attitude towards them.

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summer

>> May 24, 2011

Summer will be here as of next Friday in Austin, Texas! When is school out in your area? What are your plans this summer? Matthew doesn’t see summer as summer but as a countdown till he hits Pre-K. He couldn’t be more excited! This will be Mark’s first summer, so we are goaling to make it memorable. Pastor and I just had an end of year conference at the school this morning and it amazes me how much Mark has grown. Our school district does not have a kinder graduation so my son has officially notified me he would like to have an end of school party. My husband jokes and says “that is so your mom”. Yes, what can I say; I like to celebrate for any occasion.

This summer, I have some goals myself, but I’m waiting to present a “before & after” photo/status at summers end so you can see the project; get ready! I’m also continuing with my journey in school of earning a second degree. I am taking two classes, which is a load off of full-time status. I’m looking forward to a little more free time.

I’d love to hear from you on what your plans are for the summer!

Love you & praying for your success,
Veronica


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just for pw #10

>> May 19, 2011

Joy continues the "Just for Pastors' Wives" series. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Currently, Joy’s husband Joel serves as lead pastor of Willamette Christian Church, where she serves in a wide variety of teaching, serving, counseling and advisory roles. She is passionate about helping women understand and apply the truths in God’s Word and enjoys using speaking opportunities to do so.

Dear Pastor's Wife,

They say that pastor's wives are lonely. I dare say that some of us are (especially those of lead or teaching pastors). Maybe it is because we are in the limelight. Maybe some people feel we are inapproachable. Maybe it is because we need to avail ourselves to many and therefore find it hard to focus in on a few. Maybe it is because of the secrets we must keep for others or our own proprieties we must keep. Maybe it is because we are set apart from others, either of our own doing, or the doing of others. But, I don't think that we need to live this way. I think it is possible (as I have experienced) to have wonderful friendships within our church families if we are intentional about the ministry in which we engage.

Along this vein, I think a question that each of us has wrestled with at one time or another is, "How do I foster friendships within the church while setting boundaries and doing effective ministry? How do I determine with whom I should spend my time?". I have two thoughts on the subject.

1. You can really only minister effectively to a few people at a time.

This is a reality that we as PWs have to face. We are not superwomen and we have to be aware of our limitations. They say that no matter what size church you are in, you can really only know about 60 people (and much fewer still that we can actually invest in!). Those 60 people are going to shift with time, stage of life, and location of ministry. Sadly, many relationships are going to have to be let go at one point or another. In other words, you won't be able to maintain all of your previous relationships to successfully minister to the new ones God has for you. I think that a lot of pressure is taken off of us when we accept that we are finite.

Like the Good Samaritan, God places the people that He wants us to minister to in our path. They are in our sphere of influence. They are our children's friends' parents, our neighbors, the people we serve with, etc. If there are friendships too far outside of those arenas, it will be a lot of work and effort to maintain them regularly. Perhaps we should focus on the friendships where God has already planted us and cultivate what comes naturally.

2. We need to be intentional in our relationships in order to be effective.

So often times, friendships happen to us instead of us happening to the friendship. In other words, we need to be proactive in choosing the people we want to pursue and be in community with. Otherwise, we will be consumed with people that scramble for our time and attention. They may be needy, but in our limitations they may not be the most effective use of our time. Who are the people that you can disciple and will they reproduce themselves? Who are the people who serve hard and well and may need some filling up? Who are the people that will influence your own children? Those people will be the ones who can then reach out to the others in need. Build strategically into others so that ministry can be expanded beyond yourself.

Along these lines as well, I kind of create internal "categories" of friendship. Each category holds certain requirements of me and they differ in purpose and energy level.

"Touch" friendships. These are the majority of my relationships, acquaintances if you will, that I shepherd and love on. They are the people with whom I am not necessarily good friends, but I am friendly. I try to interact with them when I am in natural circles at church, women's Bible Study, at the grocery store. I literally try to touch them (hug, touch on the arm, etc.) and focus on them when God brings them across my path, but I rarely spend intentional outside time with them. It's amazing how much ministry can take place during these brief encounters. You can encourage and love well in even a short period of time.

"One Time Meeting" friendships. These are the friendships that need a little extra TLC and so I purpose in my mind to meet with them once to hear their story, encourage them toward Christ-likeness, and to discern who I can connect them with. I always try to be on the look out for connecting people to counselors, mentors, same-stage friends, and places of service. I cannot be a close friend to this person, but I can put them in environments for them to find those who can.

"Community" friendships. These are circles of friends, kind of like the broader groups of disciples Jesus had. Community group. Bible Study group. Children's friends group. Church staff group. These are people that I see regularly for purposeful reasons. I will often pull out my mentors and closest friends from these spheres, but not always. I do try to write each person in these groups a note, or get together once for coffee, or call and check up on them. These relationships are simpler because there is already a natural platform on which to build a friendship.

"Mentoring" friendships. These are the relationships that I have where I choose to invest purposeful time, in the same way that Jesus would with his twelve . Either someone is mentoring me for my growth, or I am mentoring someone else for theirs. I try to make these a priority and they are life-giving and beneficial for both parties.

"Besties". These people would be equivalent to Jesus' three. They are the people that I call for encouragement, or to laugh, or to just be myself with. I have a couple within the church, but the others are outside of the church, just for wisdom sake. I am not ashamed of the amount of time or attention that I give these women. I try not to exclude others, but I also don't let others guilt me into spending time with them instead.

I think it is very important to even write down who falls into which category, and then let the others fall into the "touch" category. I also find it very helpful to pray each morning that God would put into my path the people that He wants me to minister to each day. Then, even if I didn't get to someone, I can trust that God has answered my prayers and that His will was done because I sought Him for guidance and wisdom, and He is always faithful to answer.

In all things, by grace, may God make your time effective and efficient as you spend time with the women of your church. Let's trust Him with our finite resources and watch Him pour through us His infinite love.


In love with the people around me,
Joy





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just for pastors' wives #9

>> May 18, 2011

Today our friend Joy Dombrow continues the "Just for Pastors' Wives" series. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Currently, Joy’s husband Joel serves as lead pastor of Willamette Christian Church, where she serves in a wide variety of teaching, serving, counseling and advisory roles. She is passionate about helping women understand and apply the truths in God’s Word and enjoys using speaking opportunities to do so.
Dear Pastor's Wife,

There have been times in years past when my eyes have barreled down the proverbial cup of my life unable to find a drop of water (let alone a thirst-quenching gulp) to share with anyone else. There have been other times, when my cup has been so splashing-over-the-sides full that I realize I can't hold much more until I empty myself out. It is only as of late that I am realizing that there needs to be a balance of inpouring and outflowing, learning and teaching, receiving and giving to keep the streams of water moving through my life and out to others. I would venture to say that most pastor's wives tend to err on the side of giving until their well is dry, neglecting to refill again the waters that are so needed for ministry. Perhaps we need to be reminded of two things. The first is that we are, in fact, leaders...influencers. In this sense, we are often to move out just a little ahead of those that we are called to serve as we teach them, encourage them, and shepherd them. Filling ourselves up with "fuel" to move forward in this way will help us to fulfill this calling and will set an example for others to follow. Secondly, this is a marathon, not a sprint. God honors longevity, faithfulness, and perseverance. Giving and serving until we fall flat on our faces, without stopping to refresh is noteworthy, but it is not commendable. Serving well for a lifetime is more honorable than serving hard only for a short season. As we find the spiritual, emotional, and physical waters of our cups diminishing we must find a way to keep constantly filled.

1. Find a ministry or passion that energizes you. What is God teaching you right now? Where has He gifted you? What is on your heart? If you can serve and spend time in those areas, you will have a consistent and natural source from which to give. In this way, the serving is simultaneously the filling.

2. Learn, learn, learn. Read books...both the latest Christian books as well as the classics. Stretch yourself to learn and grow. Listen to podcasts. Attend conferences. Take notes from sermons. Ask questions of others you want to learn from. A teacher is first a learner. A mentor is first the mentored. The giver is first the receiver. Push yourself to learn.

3. Regular prayer and quiet times. You would think that a ministry wife would already have this practice down, but there are many who find themselves too busy serving to stop and rest before the Lord. The Holy Spirit is the teacher, comforter, and guide. He has so much to impart to us but we need to slow down enough to hear Him speak. It's amazing how many messages, words of exhortation, writings, and practical steps of obedience I have stumbled upon as I go about my daily quiet time with the Lord. He is faithful to give a fresh and timely word through the Scriptures. He is our daily bread and all the portion we need. Give Him the opportunity to fill you up.

4. Soak up all you can from other pastor's wives and friendships so that you are able to give out more and more. As iron sharpens iron, so too do ministry friendships. They can bring encouragement, blessing, exhortation, and incredible spiritual growth if we would just foster them. I appreciate our own church staff wives as they grow to become more and more like Jesus and encourage me by their examples. I have several pastor's wife friendships outside of our church in our own community who challenge and refresh me. I also have a growing number of friendships from across the country as we pastor's wives interact together on twitter, facebook, and websites.

5. Take care of yourself physically. The stresses of ministry (or life for that matter!) can take their toll if we do not acknowledge our physical limitations. We should not underestimate the importance of eating well, exercising regularly, and getting the sleep our bodies need. If left unchecked, stress can eat away at our well being and depression, illness, or emotional instability can set in, making us ineffective for the cause of Christ.

I don't know about you, but I want to serve the Lord as long and as hard as I can, making sure my cup is always filling will bless others as they receive fresh water from my ministry. And for those of you who have been full for a while and need to pour out to others, what are you waiting for? God has positioned and created you for unique service in His kingdom. Go serve someone a little ministry water.

Desiring to be a stream of blessing,
Joy

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permission to learn::suppression & arrogance (3)

Adel Torres writes from California, where she is wife to Pastor Jose, mother to toddler Toby, and is expecting baby #2 later this year. She is a missionary at heart, and spent time in India, Nepal and other countries before marrying a pastor in the States. This series of posts was originally published on Adel's blog "This Journey, My Home", where she writes about her life, insights, and mission stories. 

SUPPRESSION
I believe there some have experienced so much criticism in their lives that they survive in a small cubicle, surrounded by walls of self-doubt, unable to peek beyond or even understand that there is a world out there to learn from.

Some have built up a nice little mental living space for themselves, complete with carefully groomed creeds and perspectives that keep them entertained. Others live in dark emptiness, having learned that outside of those walls is pain, or a world which they have been told they are not valuable for. Their cubicle is little more than a coffin.

Such a person needs to be given permission to learn. He may not even realize how stuck he is, because his cubicle is so well stocked with his comforting library of dogma. She may feel like there is no purpose in learning or bettering herself because she has nothing to contribute to her world. He might even believe that he is too stupid to learn.

These kinds of limitations tend to apply to both the very old and the very young. I wonder, sometimes, for a person who has been in a cubicle for many years, and has been taught to stay there by, say, a critical spouse or a domineering religious conviction, how much hope there is of breaking out? With God, all things are possible, but people are especially in need of compassion and gentleness.

If you are reading this and feel that you are in danger of stagnating because of suppression, take this as your permission to learn! Remember, God doesn’t make junk, and there is no child of His on earth who lacks value or intellect to learn from and contribute to life.

He will teach you, and He will use you!

ARROGANCEWe’ve all known someone who simply refuses to be taught because they are convinced they are better than, and know more than, the people around them. I have little to say about this one, because I think the arrogant person is typically motivated by underlying shame and fear of criticism or rejection.

Probably every one of us has been guilty of responding with arrogance to a potential learning experience because we either feel threatened, or we think we’re superior to the lesson. If we feel threatened, that’s a sure sign we have something to learn, and if we feel superior to the lesson, the first thing to learn is that we are NEVER superior to ANY lesson!

(To be continued...)

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just for pastors' wives #8

>> May 17, 2011

Today our friend Joy Dombrow continues the "Just for Pastors' Wives" series. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Currently, Joy’s husband Joel serves as lead pastor of Willamette Christian Church, where she serves in a wide variety of teaching, serving, counseling and advisory roles. She is passionate about helping women understand and apply the truths in God’s Word and enjoys using speaking opportunities to do so.

Today I shared part of my story in front of a group of seminary students.
The deep personal anguish of suffering that I experienced nearly fourteen years ago has moved out from a place of raw hurt to a place of scarred hope. The scope of time has softened the harsh lines of reality enough so that it is not as sharp and dangerous to share. The further out that I move from that place, and the more victory that God grants me over the hard things, the broader I allow the audience of my story to be.

Today I was vulnerable. I knew that there was a chance I would cry. I knew that there were parts of my story that would bring evaluative judgement. I knew that hard questions could come. But, as a pastor's wife I chose (and choose) to risk the hurt. I can almost hear the cheers of vulnerability-lovers everywhere. This word, along with transparency and authenticity has been batted around over the last several years like a beach ball amongst a large crowd. Speakers and leaders are often judged by their exemplification of these words, perhaps because people are grasping for some sense of humanness from us. Although I can appreciate that sentiment, I also feel that these concepts of openness and exposure have been placed on a pedestal of respect far greater than respect for the leader themselves. We have used these words of vulnerability, transparency, and authenticity so interchangeably that the definitions have blurred together and we often miss the path of understanding.


I agree that vulnerability is important. C.S. Lewis says that, "To love at all is to be vulnerable."
Placing yourself in a position that exposes the tender places of your soul, making you capable of being wounded, means that you are open to being used of God in dangerous and risky places. It is a dying to self and trusting God with your heart and your reputation. In this vulnerable state of weakness, God's strength is magnified. Wise vulnerability is a part of ministry and allows for authenticity.

However, in my own life, I choose to be limited in my transparency. Transparency is characterized by visibility or accessibility of information. Not everyone needs to (or should) have access to all the information regarding your life. Yes, it makes of us feel normal when we hear about the stumblings and indiscretions of another. Yes, it makes us feel special when leaders share these things with us because it indicates that we are in their inner circle of trust, so many people will desire our disclosure and exposure.

Yet, the Jesus that we know from the Bible was not completely transparent. He didn't always make His intentions known. He spoke in parables. He didn't not reveal his human temptations and struggles to the masses. God Himself has not yet revealed all of who He is to us.
I think it can be a dangerous practice to publicly (from a platform, blog, or even entire community group) share sin and personal struggle before God has brought it through to victory. Don't get me wrong...80% of the time I am an open book, but I also know that there is a time, place, and season for everything and the wisdom of the scriptures say that it is better to hold your tongue than to say too much. Sometimes revealing certain things is not appropriate. I need to be careful not to expose my husband, or my church, or my friends. I need to be careful to not cause another person to stumble in my revelation of temptation. My general rule of thumb is that the closer I am to the struggle, the smaller my group of confidants. I must be transparent with at least my husband and God to begin with, but as I move past it in victory, I can enlarge that circle more and more as time passes.

But, no matter how much I choose to reveal in a given moment, what is shared must be authentic. Of all three of these words, I believe that authenticity is the most important. It means to be true to one's own personality, spirit, or character. In other words, not to be a hypocrite or fake. The things that are expressed or exposed are in line with the true nature of who we are. Our lives must be honest and real, and you can be real without being overly-divulgent.
It is my prayer that we would give each other grace to walk in varying degrees of transparency. I may not share all of the nitty gritty in my small group or from the stage, but rest assured I am sharing it with someone, and I promise that with everyone, I will try to be vulnerable and authentic...by His grace and through His power.

Choosing to be authentic,
Joy
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public - private - charter - homeschool

>> May 16, 2011




When it comes to our children, we all want them to receive the best education possible. Some families decide on private school or operate a private school of their own within the church. Some families do pubic or charter schools while other family’s home-school. Not one is greater than the other because each family has to make the best decision for their respective family unit. I have two boys, in the fall of 2010 our oldest entered Kindergarten. Prior to the fall of 2010 I cannot tell you how much I wrestled with how to move forward with his education.

Should I do public?

Should I do private?

What in the world is a charter school anyways?

If I homeschool is that going to work for our family dynamic and what curriculum do I use?

This was not an easy decision. I kid you not that I prayed, fasted, interviewed, surveyed well respected, well rounded pastors’ wives and women in ministry from different parts of the country. It was not a decision I made over “the summer” or "the year prior." I must preface you that in efforts to prep the boys for their journey into the education world, I launch Legacy Academy. Yes folks, with my Type A personality I launched a full fledge Texas state licensed early childhood learning center. Owned and operated from 2006-2010. It was wonderful; seriously God sent us fabulous parents, children, subs for that season. To remain focused with my original intent for launch, which was for the educational advancement of my boys; in early spring 2010 I sold the business. It was perfect timing as that fall my oldest would enter Kinder and I was personally expounding on new endeavors.

After much prayer I had peace with our local elementary; technically a Texas exemplary school. As some of you (gasp) yes it was public. It was honestly a brand new school, two years old that had a layout future school districts will adopt incorporating a neighborhood type design of only k-5 & 1st in one region; so on throughout a two story school with the latest equipment (such as Macs) to enhance their educational experience. I toured the school, as if it was private, met the staff, administration, spoke with teachers on various grade levels; I did my homework folks. As I did the same with the local private schools, charter schools and homeschooling co-op type groups. Public school in LISD was the route for us. We had a wonderful school year, blessed with a Christian principle, teachers, coaches etc. which is not common in the Austin region. And then came the end of year, which meant rezoning. We live in a young community (meaning lots of people are my age, having babies, building houses, occupying till Jesus comes by growing) so with the extensive growth came re-zoning. Marcus got rezoned to a new school. I’m sure it’s awesome to some, but wasn’t what his existing school is and unless we plan on up and moving a few streets over which could technically be re-zoned three more times before sixth grade, I started searching for options.

To my wonderful discovery in the fall of 2011 our county is launching a charter school hosting an international bachelorette program beginning at primary grade level. That is HUGE for this area, and for my family; but one catch, they were full. Yes, that’s right even before they opened a wait list. Long story short, cutting out all the details – guess what??? WE ARE IN and I couldn’t be more excited as we embark this new educational journey! No more re-zoning and love the top notch educational aspect!

With all that said, what type of school have you decided your child will attend?


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when the going gets tough...

>> May 13, 2011

This article was originally published in 2010 and is re-posted by permission on CLUTCH, in honor of Sarah's 8th wedding anniversary. In between the demands of an active toddler and a brand-new baby, today reminds her of all the reasons why God let her marry a pastor. (Something she swore she would never, ever do.)


They say that married couples in Western society have a 50% chance of sticking together. If you ask me, that’s pretty bleak.

Eight years ago, my husband and I celebrated our vows in an outdoor garden, just two days after graduating from college. Like most couples in love, we had starry-eyed fantasies about how great married life was going to be.

We each had found “the One." We were committed for life. We were going to spend our days being supportive of each other’s dreams, in the evenings we would cook beautiful meals together, and when we traveled we’d read books aloud in the car.

We were going to stay fit and exercise every day. I wanted to still fit my wedding dress on our 10th anniversary. And our 15th and 20th. We would never smell bad, or forget to shower, or “let ourselves go” like other couples we’d seen.

And then life happened.

Three months after the wedding, my mother-in-law came for a “short visit” that ended up lasting most of the next year and a half. My sister needed a place to live after graduating from high school, so we invited her to move in.

We finished graduate school and my husband accepted his first full-time pastorate. His mother moved with us to the new place. Then his younger sisters needed a home for the summer. In the fall, my parents faced a health crisis and ended up living with us for a year.

For the first five years of our marriage, our only “alone” time came in five or six week breaks between one family member moving out and another moving in. One pastoral salary didn’t stretch very far, and I wasn’t always able to find paying work.

In every marriage, I believe each partner comes to a crucial questioning point. There is that defining moment when fantasy collides with reality, and you ask yourself if you made the right choice. That morning when you roll over in bed and look at the person sleeping beside you, and you wonder:

“Did I choose the right woman?”
“Did I fall in love with the right man?”
“Is life with this person my true destiny?”

Anyone who’s been married a while knows that the honeymoon doesn’t last forever. It isn’t long before you’re juggling bills, sharing the bathroom, and putting up with each other’s public and private quirks. The leisurely evenings of fantasy-land quickly become filled with chores and errands and last-minute work projects. And sometimes it’s harder than you think to stay small enough to fit your wedding dress!

Sometimes it seems like older people forget to tell the young ones a few important things in life. Like the fact that no matter how much you love somebody, tough times are guaranteed to show up sooner or later.

And if you’re going to last, you need to have more than sex appeal to fall back on.

Fortunately, a few wise people let us in on the secret before we made it to the altar. And while we were dating, we asked God to show us specifically whether we were meant to be together. I’m not here to get into the semantics of whether there is only one person on the planet for everyone, or whether you could be equally happy with different people. I’m just sharing what worked for us.

We’d both had a string of heartbreaks. We were sick of the dating roller-coaster. We each wanted a meaningful relationship that wasn’t going to destructively self-implode. So when we had the chance, we asked God to make it clear whether we fit together.

God answered, more than once, and fifteen months later we were married.

Since then, there have been plenty of good times. We’ve ministered side by side, enjoyed adventures in the mission field, and taken romantic trips to places like Florence, Italy and Malibu, California. We’ve become each other’s best friend and closest confidante. He is my very favorite person and whether I’m overwhelmed with busyness or doing nothing at all - he is the one person I always want to share it with.

We’ve had plenty of tough times, too. We’ve experienced enough shared obstacles to make anyone wonder if they married the right person. But we keep choosing to see marriage as a partnership for sharing our troubles, rather than as a contract toward self-gratification.

Like any old married couple will tell you, initial fantasies don’t last long. I’ve had to pause half a dozen times while writing this article to meet the needs of our [then] three month-old son (he's 18-months old now, and we have a 3-week-old daughter who's doing the spitting up these days) -- including once to mop up a puddle of curdled spit-up that landed on my shoulder and glopped down the couch cushion behind me. I think I’m still wearing most of it. So much for always smelling great and not “letting myself go”.

Tonight my husband is at one of our two churches leading board meeting, even though it's our anniversary. So much for leisurely fireside evenings spent playfully cooking together.

Yes, we’ve experienced those moments when we look at each other and wonder how we got here. But all we have to do to answer the question is go back over the story of how God led us at every junction. 

Fantasy doesn’t have much control over us these days, between pastoring two churches and raising our toddler son and newborn daughter. There’s rarely enough money for everything we think we need, and we’ve both had to reassess a few of our dreams.

But when the going gets tough, we find ourselves recounting how our life together began. It keeps us reminded that we didn’t get ourselves into this on a whim. We are partners, no matter how challenging the situations we face. And we’re not doing this marriage alone.

That, I believe, makes all the difference.
______________________________
Originally published by AnswersForMe.org © 2010. Adapted for CLUTCH, May 2011.

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permission to learn::self-protectiveness (2)

>> May 11, 2011

Adel Torres writes from California, where she is wife to Pastor Jose, mother to toddler Toby, and is expecting baby #2 later this year. She is a missionary at heart, and spent time in India, Nepal and other countries before marrying a pastor in the States. This series of posts was originally published on Adel's blog "This Journey, My Home", where she writes about her life, insights, and mission stories. 

SELF-PROTECTIVENESS...
...From Judgment
Once a church member pulled me aside after church and told me I should never correct my husband in front of other people. I smiled and agreed, but inside I was a ball of rebellious emotions.

Was she sexist? What did she know about my relationship with my husband? Who was she to advise me on marriage issues: she’d only been married once, and he tried to run her over with a car! In fact, because my husband preached to that group in his second language, she and the other listeners corrected him throughout his whole sermon!

Even though in the back of my mind I knew it shamed my husband to be corrected in front of other people, and I was willing to try not to, I allowed a wedge to come in my heart between myself and that woman. I did not like feeling vulnerable to someone who I felt was judging me and misunderstanding me. I didn’t like her to think she had that liberty with me.

I put a wall of protectiveness up and kept a careful rein on myself in that circle from then on.

...From Hurt
We’ve all had someone who has hurt us. Sometimes the people closest to us know how to push our buttons like no one else does. They know where are weakest points are, and they love to drive an ice pic into them now and then.

Sound familiar? How can we learn from people like that? I’ll let you know when I have the answer. I just know the important part is being willing to learn.

...From Being Wrong
Some of us have this funny idea that we must be right all the time, and if we’re every wrong or make a mistake or fail, it will be totally devastating. This can be even more pronounced in those of us with religious convictions. Ironic, since the Bible doesn’t ever condone this kind of self-standard. In fact, God assures us that when our heart condemns us, to remember that He is greater than our hearts. (1 John 3:20)

This kind of impossible standard leads to all kinds of pit-falls. Besides preventing us from learning from common mistakes, it separates us from others. We cannot allow people to see our imperfections, because it hurts too much. And if we are ever nuts enough to convince ourselves we have arrived at flawlessness, then we become superior too, and often critical of others. Then we become the kind of person that others protect themselves from, and the cycle continues.

Ironically, the person we can learn the most from is often the person we feel the need to be most RIGHT around—that’s right, our spouse.

...From Being Consumed
I’m realizing this is one I especially struggle with. In trying to figure out why I shut myself off from vulnerability to certain people, I've concluded that sometimes I’m just afraid to be sapped. These people aren’t exactly harmful. "What do they want from me that I’m afraid to give them?" I have had to ask myself.

It’s not money. They want time, some of them, which I try to give. I listen politely, but not with my heart.

I think it’s really affirmation that I’m afraid to give. I don’t know if this possibly makes sense, I’m only beginning to recognize it myself. There are some people that seem to desperately need to be recognized, acknowledged, agreed with. Sometimes I don’t think they deserve recognition, sometimes I disagree with them, and usually I find their approach simply irritating. Something in me senses their vacuum for a connection that for some reason I am unwilling to give.

And what exactly would it take from me to do that for them? I don’t know. I only know sometimes I don’t feel capable, I don’t feel like I have enough for them, there are so many of them, and then to have enough for my family and myself. Enough of what? I don’t know. I don’t know!

Then there are cases where people do want more of our time and resources than we can give. And we do put up walls to protect those things. We need God to show us where the balance is on that, but I don’t think the answer is ever to close our hearts to anyone.

...From Being Devalued
Once I complained to my husband about feeling like I needed help from someone who had a good eye for style. He recommended someone he thought could help me. I couldn’t do it, because I already felt like a pathetic country bumpkin in that person’s eyes. I felt misunderstood, and couldn’t bear to confirm what I perceived was their opinion of me.

I’m not saying my reasons were right or wrong, simply that shame can prevent us from being learners.

Self-protectiveness causes us to build barriers around ourselves that keep us locked inside. This is something we do to ourselves, a survival mechanism in an unfriendly world. It's a natural result of a healthy mind, in most cases, and serves a purpose, but we also need to recognize when it is limiting us.

There are other things that can keep us from learning, most of which could be categorized under self-protectiveness, but may not always be as easy to identify.

(To be continued...)

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guest post: you be you

>> May 10, 2011

I would like to introduce you to Heather Moore. Heather loves the local church and has given her life to ministry. She serves at Christ Fellowship Tampa where her husband, Bruce is the Senior Pastor. They are on a journey of a lifetime as they have traded everything of importance in their lives in an attempt to save a dying church in the heart of the city. Heather is a proud mommy to Gwendloyn and has just written her first book with her husband set to publish in the spring of 2012 by NavPress. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook or blog.


There can’t be anything more agonizing than pretending to be something you are not. It takes so much time, energy, and effort to be someone other than you. Yet, at one time or another every pastor’s wife feels like she cannot be herself.

But that is simply not true. God creates each us with distinctive personalities, uniqueness and talents. Why would God create us in His image only to be pressed into a mold of someone else? The best gift you can give your local church is to simply Be You!

Don’t look behind you: Just because the former pastor’s wife did a certain thing doesn’t mean you have to. After all, she is gifted with a different set of talents and life experiences than you. Celebrating the impact of her ministry does not mean you have to fill her role. Give yourself permission to minister in a different way than she.

Glance beside you: We all have women who serve as contemporary role models. Having inspiring women around us is important, but don’t fall into the trap that you have to look like her, act like her, or copy what she does. I fall prey to the copycat syndrome. I see so many amazing women of God accomplishing so much. Their life seems exciting as they travel, speak and tweet about all the interesting people they meet. Meanwhile, I am at home struggling to potty train my two year old. Most of these women are in different seasons of life. Their children are grown. For me to copy their ministry would be disastrous. I can learn from them. They can inspire me. But, I cannot copy who they are nor can I perform the assignments God has given them.

Look to God: God is a giving God. One of His favorite things to do is to bless His creation. Not only does He bestow each of us with varying gifts, but He also gives us specific opportunities to utilize those gifts. It would make no sense to have gifts but no way to use them. Ask God to show you how to use your gifts.

By combining your gifts with ministry opportunities, you’ll be You!

So, Pastor’s Wives what’s the most freeing thing about just being YOU?


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Guest Post: when being a pw is hard: expectations

>> May 9, 2011

Stephanie is The Candid Pastor's Wife. She can’t decide what she wants to be, so she does it all: blogging, neurotic, break-the-mold pastor’s wife, blessed mommy, math nerd, film and commercial actor, virtual assistant, and household deal hunter. Stephanie has been blogging since September 2010, with favorite writing topics including marriage, mission, and beauty outside of culture. Besides loving to work (apparently), she tries to spend all of her free time with her two favorite men: pastor hubby Brad and 15-month old Samuel. She thinks it’s also important to sneak in moments for food-love, laughing in the sunshine, and late-night reading.
When my husband first told me he was being called into full-time ministry, we had not been married even a year. Since I didn't grow up with a Christian lifestyle, I thought, Oh no! What am I going to do!? I'm not made to be a pastor's wife! That's not me! But as a friend told me last year: If you're husband is called to be a pastor, you are also called - to be a pastor's wife.

I truly believed my husband's calling was from the Lord, so how could I think that the "calling" to be a pastor's wife was not so possible? I now realize, thanks to my friend Martha, that the enemy wants me to think I'm inadequate to encourage my husband in his ministry. The Liar would love it if I denied the role of pastor's wife and became withdrawn, bitter, or beligerent towards the church, God's beloved.

I was lucky as a young wife, in that other pastors and PWs that I knew made sure we didn't sign on to a church that had specific pastor's wife "job responsibilities." However, I sort of took this as carte blanche to not feel committed to anything in ministry. Oh sure, I invested my time into friends' lives who didn't believe in Jesus, but at first I balked at committing to a formal place of service in the church - thinking that I would then be expected to do something.

You see - I had it all backwards. The fear of walking into an unhealthy PW role led me right into satan's schemes: I was insecure and defensive and didn't want to take part in the work of the body of Christ. I'm so blessed to be part of a church body that does not have a specific role in mind for me. But our church does expect things from me - they are the same things expected of all members of our church:

  • to be connected to God and other believers

  • to be committed to personal holiness

  • to be contributing my time, talents, and treasures

  • to be calling others to follow Jesus
And the more I'm aligned with God, the more my desire for this mission increases. Like it or not, pastor's wife, you are an example to your congregation. It doesn't matter if you want to be a leader or not; people are looking at you to see what a Godly woman does: what her marriage and family life is like, how strongly she pursues God and the lost, and if she thinks personal integrity is important or not. Jenilee calls this the Fish Bowl - and it certainly feels like that! But if God has called us to this ministry, then he will equip us for it. Depend on Him to give you the courage and strength it takes.

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when mothers day is like salt in a wound...

>> May 8, 2011

I would like to introduce you to my friend Melissa. Today she shares from her heart a perspective that many experience but others fail to acknowledge. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter or her blog


Mother’s Day is such a happy, loving day - but for those who want nothing more than to be called “mom” it is like salt in an open wound. I think back to all of the Mothers’ Days that I wanted to skip church, fast forward the day or bury my head in the sand to avoid the inevitable emotional battle that was going to ensue.

When a church asks every mom stand for recognition, or prays specifically over moms, or gives all the moms a gift - it is a sweet and joyous event. However, when you are still sitting with your husband, unable to stand with the other women - the hurt is almost physical.

Although your faith may be strong and your relationship with the Lord is good - your emotions can take hold and it’s just hard.

As a society, as Christian women, and especially as Southern, Christian women - we put so much of our value into being moms. We find ourselves asking “How many kids do you have?” and then catch ourselves valuing a woman more, or less, based on her answer.

We are smart women who love the Lord - we KNOW that He loves us. We understand in our heads that our value is only in Him and what He has done FOR us.

We get that… we know all the right church words and all the right church actions. It doesn’t help with the pain and the emptiness and the way that we feel unworthy. My friend, Rebecca LeCompte, from The Imperfect Wives says “To allow others to see the pain can be more than a woman’s heart can bear…”

After suffering from multiple miscarriages and three ectopic pregnancies, I was so pleased when the Lord lead me to Psalm 127:3.

Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.

“A gift? A reward?”

The adversary had me believing that children were the gift, the reward! What a revelation to understand that children are ‘a’ gift! One gift of many that the Lord can give us. If children aren’t the reward for you - at this time, or at any time - then you are not being punished or valued less. God just has other plans and other rewards … piled up and ready to dole out on you!!

There is freedom in this verse!

If I didn’t have children:

I am still blessed!
I am still loved!
I am still valued!
I am still a vibrant child of God!
A not THE… every word of His Word is there on purpose.

His purpose for my life… and now - years later - my life, as a mom.

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mothers: change the world, launch futures & shape souls

>> May 6, 2011





I would like to introduce you to a guest blogger. The inspiring B. Heather Moore! A woman after God's heart. You can find her here on Twitter and Facebook. As well as connect with her on her blog. She is an inspiration to many and one of God's leading ladies!

I checked my watch. It was 11:23 a.m. to be exact. So early in the day, and I just changed the third dirty diaper. The day was shaping up to be more smelly and less exciting than I hoped.
To be honest, there are days when I long for some excitement. As a pastor’s wife, I daydream about doing something important at the church. Eagerly, I await the details of my husband’s day because I love to hear about ministry, I love to talk about ministry, I love to hear the stories of God at work in people’s lives. Some days I wish I could be at the church to be apart of something big.

My tendency is to think the mundane is unimportant because it is dull, boring. Truly, the polar opposite of exhilarating. There are no awards ceremonies for changing the poopiest diapers; no one celebrates the wiping of runny noses.

But it occurs to me that everyone from Oprah to slick L.A. marketing executives can ‘redefine’ anything these days. (Oprah says that 50 is the new 30. As I approach middle age this is one redefinition I don’t mind.) My redefinition of motherhood involves finding beauty in the mundane. I have the task of raising the lovely soul God has entrusted to me. It is my responsibility to shape her character, expose her to God’s global Kingdom, and to launch her into her future.

Before my daughter was born, I prayed three things. I prayed she would be tall. Sounds silly, but being short has never afforded me the opportunity to purchase pants off the ready to wear rack. Well, that’s not exactly true. I could buy the perfect length jeans from Petite Sophisticate. But I’d rather not wear jeans with elastic in the back. Naturally, I thought it would be nice if my daughter never needed a tailor.

Also, I hoped she would get her dad’s personality. His personality attracts all sorts of people. He has friends from all walks of life. Every time I turn around, he is encouraging those around him.
Thirdly, I prayed my daughter would be the next Lottie Moon.

Not many people know who Lottie Moon was. Charlotte Diggs, her given name, was a young single woman who in 1873 left the security of home, gave up all comforts and conveniences, and yielded all that she was and all she hoped to be for God to use in the distant land of China. So committed to the cause of Christ that when a famine hit the land and food was scarce she gave away all her food. She literally starved to death while protecting and saving the lives of countless Chinese children. Even in death she yielded all she had, every morsel of food, for the cause of Christ.

I never want my daughter to know the pains of hunger or the thirst of dehydration. I want to her to know true love and marry a wonderful man. I want her to experience the absolute overwhelming joy of having a child of her own.What I do want, however, is for my daughter to possess the same spirit as Lottie Moon. I want her to live with a willingness to abandon all comforts, all dreams, all conveniences in order to fulfill God’s dreams and plans for her life. I hope she accomplishes things I could never do and that she goes places I never went. I hope she attempts things I was too scared to try. Desiring these things for my daughter means my responsibility is huge. I have to expose her to cultures, languages, and all manner of odd foods in order to cultivate a love for the world. There will be a day when I take her on her first mission trip and have to explain to her why there are children who live in one-room huts and sleep on dirt floors. I will have to model sacrificial service and generous giving to prove that God is trustworthy….that God is worth abandoning all comforts and conveniences for in order to be apart of His global kingdom.

Shaping her character will require capitalizing on hundreds of teachable moments. I have to watch and be ready to catch those teachable moments so they don’t come and go without my notice. That means I have to be aware of the mundane, because God might choose to work through moments that I think unimportant. God’s ways are not my ways and He might deem a moment important that I think otherwise. He finds beauty in things I gloss over. He finds value in things that seem insignificant to me.

Therefore, I must also see beauty in the mundane. I must be poised to catch those moments.
Those dirty diapers and runny noses aren’t so mundane. There is beauty in the mundane because each day presents an opportunity to dream big dreams and think big thoughts for my daughter. Every day is the opportunity to shape a little girl into a young woman who is so committed to carrying out God’s plan for her life that she changes the world.
Suddenly, my job description is brimming with excitement. Motherhood redefined. World changer. Future builder. Character shaper. It doesn’t get more exciting than that!
So the next time my husband comes home and says what did you today? My proud reply will be “I helped change the world, launched a future, and shaped a soul today. What did you do?”

Moms, let me hear from you. How are you redefining the mundane?

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Today on CLUTCH: Tricia Lovejoy

>> May 5, 2011

What I love about the Wholehearted Column here on CLUTCH is I can bring to you women from across the globe that are impacting, influencing and inspiring the world around them. Women in ministry who embrace their leadership mantel and walk in the uniqueness of their call. Today I present to you Tricia Lovejoy, she is amazing. You can connect with her online on Facebook, Twitter or her blog.


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permission to learn (1)

>> May 4, 2011

Adel Torres writes from California, where she is wife to Pastor Jose, mother to toddler Toby, and is expecting baby #2 later this year. She is a missionary at heart, and spent time in India, Nepal and other countries before marrying a pastor in the States. This series of posts was originally published on Adel's blog "This Journey, My Home", where she writes about her life, insights, and mission stories. 

We recently sat down for a visit with a family friend who has been a great source of wisdom and support in our lives. As we chatted about life’s challenges, he told us about his early days as a teacher in a junior high classroom.

“When I started teaching,” he said, “I made it a point to establish right from the beginning that I was the teacher and THEY were the students.” He laughed, “Those kids spent the rest of the year making me a student!”

He went on to explain, “It wasn’t until I realized I didn’t have all the answers that I gave myself permission to learn.”

In fact, now in his work with teens, he makes it a point to listen most distinctly to the most difficult ones, because he believes they have the answers that will help him understand how to minister to others.

It reminded me of something I once heard said by Pastor Clarissa Sproul. If you have committed yourself to be a student of God, she says, you better realize that every situation in life is a potential learning opportunity. That means every PERSON in your life is your teacher! Every single person.

That challenged my thinking.

I thought I was pretty teachable, but when I started going through the list of “difficult” people in my life, I discovered a whole university's worth of potential teachers that I wasn’t especially comfortable with.

EVERY person?

That includes the Critical Church Member. The Schizophrenic off the street. The Guy who’s beliefs sound heretical to mine. The Difficult Family Member. And my own Spouse—ouch!

So what exactly is preventing me from being willing to learn in these situations?

There are a number of reasons any of us might refuse to learn, and that's what this series of posts is about. 

(To be continued...)

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Guest Post: preach the gospel ... to yourself

>> May 2, 2011

As a pastor's wife, the message I often speak to myself is "Do more." You know: go earlier, stay later, give more, disciple more, sign up more, offer more.

I have to remind myself that this is a false gospel. This is not the message of God, nor is it what ministry is all about. But it's so tempting to listen to this idol of mine! Because when it comes down to it - doing something is easy and ministry is hard, and I want to believe that I'm following God's will and being sanctified more each day. Simply doing something convinces me that I'm on the correct path.

But what if that doing is really distracting? Satan would love that, wouldn't he? For us to believe the lie that says I can just work, work, work for God. This lie only calls us away from our true purpose - to glorify God. To spend time with Him. To talk to Him, and follow His truths.


But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4, NIV, emphasis mine)

I trust God when he says
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. (John 6:63, NIV)
and
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6, NIV)
Because I trust Him, I will trust that spending my time worshiping Him will lead me to the actions He desires from me, instead of trying to force my worship of Him by my work.
My husband calls this "preaching the gospel to yourself", and we all need to do it. Daily. Hourly. It is vital that we recognize these idols which are clogs in the arteries of our worship, our heartbeat.

I think it's obvious that spending time with God and studying His truths will bring these idols to light. But I also want to encourage you to find someone to be accountable to, for I often find my sin is rooted out and destroyed more quickly (and before destruction) when I am in an active accountability relationship.

I know this is hard when you're a pastor's wife. Who can you trust? Who will let you be... you? That person is out there. Pray for this person. Pray for someone who will be full of truth and grace. Someone to whom confidentiality is a big deal. Someone from whom you can learn. Someone you can also love.

How do you actively "preach the gospel to yourself" daily? How has accountability helped you do this?

Stephanie


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