A Much Needed Getaway

When you are a family in ministry, family time is a VERY important thing! We were very blessed to take a family vacation this month, and not just any little vacation, a magical vacation for this family of Disney addicts. ;)  A wonderful week of disconnecting ourselves from the world (aka cell phones were only for trying to reach each other in the park, the “do not disturb” function is a beautiful thing), and enjoying our family.

Here are a few of my favorite memories:

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We opted for the Memory Maker package on this trip, and I really loved it. That allowed my hubby to concentrate on videos (notice his camcorder in almost every pic) for our video scrapbook. :) It’s such a cool way to document our family time. He even let the kids take his old camera & capture videos from their point of view, aka “Kid Cam”.  I’ll share a few segments of it when he’s done editing it.

Be blessed & enjoy your family!

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To the Young Pastor’s Wife

I guess I still somewhat fall into this category, but although the “pastor’s wife” title is a new-ish one for me, being a woman in ministry is not.

Ladies, my heart simply wants to encourage you.  The struggles you feel are very real, and you are not alone in any of them.

Are you feeling any of these:

  • Lonely.  Seemingly every friend you had before ministry now looks at you differently.  They aren’t as open with you.  You aren’t as open with them.  The fear of judgmental thoughts is very real.
  • Like you must walk on eggshells.  Every decision you make is watched.  Your clothes aren’t nice enough…or maybe too nice.  Every word you say must be more than carefully thought out, because everyone, but you it seems, is allowed to wear their feelings on their sleeves.
  • Like you must be the “perfect” housewife.  Your children must fit a certain mold.  Your home must look a certain way.  The budget must always work out perfectly.
  • Like your husband is on loan to you…definitely doesn’t belong to you but to the congregation.
  • Like you have forgotten who you really are deep inside.

I will honestly say, at some point over the last 15 years in and out of ministry, I’ve felt these & many more.  Living the ministry life is not for everyone.  It’s lonely.  It’s very public.  And if you are in it, it’s part of God’s plan for you.

When I find my mind wandering into one of these negative places, it’s easy to dwell there.  Honestly, it’s easy to set up camp and stay a while, and that’s just what the Enemy wants us to do.  If he can bring us down, he can get to our family, our husbands, and destroy the work God is doing.

First and foremost let me encourage you (and remind myself) to suit up each day.  Put on your armor ladies!  Keep the Enemy out of your minds.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8

Second, let’s defeat these lies.  Yes, lies.

  • Lonely.  You will feel lonely, but you are most definitely NOT alone.  Your friends are still there.  True, you may have to be more guarded around some people, but I promise you, there are friends out there for you.  (And you are always free to message me.) :)  Confide in your husband how you are feeling.  Let him pray for you.  Don’t worry about burdening him…because you aren’t!  You are in this ministry TOGETHER!
  • Those eggshells.  I know from experience that sometimes you just want to let your feelings fly…ugly and out in the open.  Over the years, I’ve excused myself from many meetings to “refill my cup of water” or “visit the restroom” in order to allow myself time to pray and regroup.  There will always be those who passive-aggressively (or maybe downright aggressively) put down on your husband, your children, and you.  But know that the worth of your family & yourself is NOT directly related to what they perceive.  Only in God can we truly find our worth!

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Cor 10:13

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. – Psalm 139:13-15

  • Perfect Housewife.  I laugh at this one often.  I am FAR from the perfect housewife.  I am FAR from the perfect mom.  Still, I find myself feeling expected to be these things.  It never fails,frazzledmom-3 there is always that one church member who will show up on the day you have a double sink full of dirty dishes.  A mountain of unfolded laundry on the sofa.  Kids who look as if they haven’t bathed in 2 weeks. And, you still in your pjs at 3 in the afternoon.  Oh well, right! :)  Don’t hold yourself or your family to the expectations of others.  My children are introverted, like both of their parents.  If they aren’t comfortable enough to speak to someone, I know not to force them to.  I can pray with them about being brave, but others will not see this, and that is okay.  I stress lots over budgeting…I’m a numbers person.  If this falls into one of your household responsibilities, know that in most ministry cases…it’s going to be tight.  It may not always be in the black.  But as long as you are following God’s leading & being a good steward of His blessings, relax.  He’s got you!

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:31-34

  • Husband.  Remember that your husband’s calling is a very important one.  If you feel like he is “on loan” to you, please talk to him about it.  If he’s a new pastor, he honestly may not see what you are seeing.  He may simply be trying so hard to “do a good job” that he doesn’t realize this.  Schedule…purposely schedule…off days with him.  Make him put them on the calendar. :)  When we were first called to pastoral ministry, one of the best pieces of advice my husband was given was to make family time sacred.  It is scheduled & uninterruptible. His deacons know this.  Our church knows this, and they respect this.
  • Who You Are.  This can be a tough one.  We all have dreams of what we want life to be.  It’s difficult sometimes to realize God may have other plans.  But we also need to remember that verse in Psalms I posted earlier.  God knows us better than we know ourselves.  He gives us desires in our hearts.  We may not know why or how they fit into His plan, but I assure you He has a plan.  Continue to find yourself in Him.  I’m still not 100% sure of His plan for me.  I just follow.  When we started seminary 5 years ago, I knew God was calling me to get a degree in Worship Leadership.  Music is my passion!  He speaks loudly to me through music.  It fit!  He called me to serve as a worship leader for a while, but never opened up worship classes for me to take.  He did however open up women’s ministry training.  Not having a clue as to how He would use me in this, I followed.  I’m still following.  Over the past 5 years, He has taught me so much about myself.  Grown in me a HUGE love for women in ministry.  And, I know He isn’t finished yet.  But for now, I will love on and pray for each one of you ladies!  Remember, you are a unique creation…perfect daughter… of the King.  Put on your crown princesses and hold your heads high!princess

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10

*Father, I pray for each special lady You have called to be the wife of one of Your leaders.  It’s not an easy calling.  I pray that You will help them learn to guard their minds from the attacks of the enemy.  I pray You will send them friendships.  I pray that You will protect their homes and marriages.  And I sincerely pray that You will show each one how precious they are to You.*

Be blessed!

-De

Mom’s Night Out: Review from a Pastor’s Wife

So, the other night, my hubby and I FINALLY watched Mom’s Night Out.  I’ve been wanting to see the movie since its release, but never had the opportunity to go.

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I thoroughly enjoyed the laughter found in a rare, truly family friendly comedy.

The chemistry between the cast was phenomenal.

Seriously I LAUGHED so hard…much needed after the past few weeks around here.

But, I also cried.  There were several moments of silent tears as I found myself identifying greatly with the story.

I’ve been the frazzled mom…many many times.  I’ve found myself putting the focus in entirely wrong places.  I’ve felt the aggravation over never seeming to have a moment alone.  Children who refused to just go to church and take part in children’s activities while mom had a rare moment of adult worship.  I’ve been there.

I’ve tried not to crush dreams my children have by freaking out when they make messes (and when I say messes I mean the true tornado just destroyed this area kind of messes).  I don’t always succeed here, but I try.

I’ve been in the place of crazy…when I desired the company of girl friends so much that I might do something totally insane if you ruined my plans.  ;)

But there was one point that has only just recently become real to me.  One place that I am learning more about how to deal with, and failing miserably.  I really felt myself identifying with Sondra (Patricia Heaton), and in that crying over things I’d taken for granted in the past.

The Pastor’s Wife.  This is where I live right now.  A position that I never fully understood for years.  A position that, like I said, I took for granted for a long time.  They portrayed her well.

-Sunday morning greeter.  Wearing a smile, even though life at home (with children) wasn’t perfect.

-The Encourager.  Ready and willing to encourage the other women, even when deep down she needed a little herself.

-Human.  I was thrilled when they touched on the fact that she was a person who had made mistakes.  Yes…we make mistakes too.

I laughed at the scene in the bowling alley when she felt compelled to remove empty alcohol bottles to protect their reputations…only to be put on the big screen carrying away empty bottles…totally my luck. ;)

I laughed at the looks on her face when forced to enter a “shady” place.  Seriously, we always feel people are looking over our shoulders judging our every move…even if we are doing what’s right, people will turn it around.

But the part that hit me most was back in the bowling alley.  Sondra thanked Allyson for inviting her out for a girl’s night and adding that it was the first time in 5 years that she had been invited to do anything with anyone that wasn’t church related.  *tears*

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Ladies, as a pastor’s wife (woman in ministry) & former regular “Jane” church member, your pastor’s wife is simply a person like you.  She feels like you.  She lives life like you.  She wants to hide from her children sometimes like you.  She needs friends to be friends, just…like…you.

The things you enjoy: shopping, playing games, being goofy together, almost obsessing over Downton Abbey (or any other tv show), hanging out, exercising…really anything… I assure you, she shares some of the same interests.  Pay attention…you’ll see.

I kick myself now for not purposing to get to know so many of the pastor’s wives I’ve known.  Many of these wonderful ladies have impacted my life more than they will ever know.  I honestly never dreamed God would lead my husband and me down this path of ministry.  I’m so glad I had many of these women to be a role-model for me.

*Father in heaven, I pray for each ministry wife that has been part of my life, and all those I’ve never met.  I pray that you will send them joy.  I pray that you will send them rest.  I pray that you will make them strong pillars of faith and strength for their husbands.  I pray that you will fill them with your love.  But mostly Father, I pray that you will send friends to those who need them.  True, trustworthy friends.  Wrap your loving arms around these precious women.  Wrap your arms around their families.  Refill & refresh each one so that she may minister to your people as you need her to. Amen.*

-De

Too Far Removed

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So, I’ve found myself avoiding TV and media in general today.  Mostly because I don’t want to have a cry fest and the images of 9/11 always move me to tears.

But I starting thinking, maybe avoiding the harsh reality that was 9/11 just because I don’t feel like crying today is probably not the best idea.

Why?  What’s wrong with that?  I strongly feel that the farther removed from the tragedy of 9/11 we are, the more forgetful we become.  The more secure we feel, the more we like to pretend it never happened.  Things are great.  What’s there to worry about?  Or the worst… we’re invincible.

I don’t want to be that naive…ever.  I pray that our society as a whole wouldn’t either, but that’s not what we see on the news everyday.

Pondering these thoughts while driving back from town, led me to thoughts of the Cross.  Are our problems in society simply that we are too far removed from the truth of the Cross?

Are Christians becoming too comfortable?  Do we suffer from a false sense of security while sitting on our comfy pews?  Have we lost the urgency to reach a lost and dying world?

The words of Paul are ringing in my ears.  His sense of urgency….

“I solemnly charge you before God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge the living and the dead, and because of His appearing and His kingdom:  Proclaim the message; persist in it whether convenient or not; rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, will multiply teachers for themselves because they have an itch to hear something new.  They will turn away from hearing the truth and will turn aside to myths.  But as for you, be serious about everything, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”  2 Timothy 4:1-5

The words whether convenient or not punch me in the pit of my stomach.  Convenience…isn’t that what our culture is all about?

Father, bring us a sense of urgency to tell people of You!

So today, while we as a nation, remember the fallen & the heroes, take a bit of time and turn back to the Cross.  Remember what Christ accomplished there.  Amidst the ugly tragedy, He purchased eternal life for us.  We will never be able to do anything to deserve that sacrifice, but we definitely live like it.  Allow yourself to get uncomfortable and think about it.  Think about all the ugly of that day on Calvary.  The hatred filled words from the crowd.  The mangled sight of the cross.  Let yourself ugly cry even if needed.  But please, don’t be too far removed from the Cross.

-De

 

Maybe More Tears than Therapy

My family may begin to think I’m crazy as I sit at my computer typing today…it’s sure to result in tears…maybe even the ugly cry.  But I need a little written therapy.

A little background:

I’ve moved a LOT in my life thus far.  I never spent more than 3 years at a single school while growing up.  I’ve made lots of friends in my 36 years.  I won’t say I’ve lost them all, but a good many I haven’t spoken to since the day we moved.  That’s how it usually goes, right?  You have those rare experiences when you’ll do your very best to keep in touch, but it just fades as life goes on.  I can honestly say that I’ve not been able to keep that super-close friend relationship beyond a move.  You know, the one where a single week doesn’t go by without one of the two purposing to get in touch…even if just to say the word “hi”. (Or in this day and age, a simple smiley text…or crazy-stupid selfie that only friends appreciate…and promise never to share.)  It’s not for lack of trying on either person’s part, life just goes on.

Here lies my fear.

Over the last few days, I’ve had tears building up…some sneaking out…over this fear.

When we started seminary 5 years ago, I remember hearing alumni tell of the friends they made while in seminary & how the friendships have lasted over years of ministry.  My excitement was off the charts.  I could NOT wait to meet this lady or ladies.  And I did make many friends during our time there, but still none of these were the “no matter what” type.  You know…those kind of friendships where you are truly family.  Invites aren’t needed, they are assumed.  Doors are always open.  The ones who can read right through your vague “things are great” facebook posts and know that things are really not great and immediately pick up the phone.

My hubby and I had many friendships built around our kids, and we honestly treasure each one of those.  Prayer warriors indeed.  But no matter how much we prayed and searched, that friendship eluded us.  We joked about our friendship curse.  It seemed that every time we would build a relationship with a couple & invited them over for fellowship…they would move.  (And most of the time that happened…seriously.) :)  Not that we took it personally, that was just the life at seminary.  Ministry calls. :)

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It was during our last year there that we finally met that family.  Our kids had played together for a while, but we’d only casually talked.  It was a slow growing friendship, but it has become a great one.  It has become the one that I was told about during my first days at seminary.

When we were called to ministry a year and a half ago, I thought that move was tough.  In my experience, 2 hours away has been just far enough for friendships to fizzle away.  But this time was different.

Good friendships (and ANY relationship) are a two way street.  If both parties are willing to work at it, they endure.  What a concept!?  ;)

It has been a great year and a half, continuing to grow this friendship!  I thank God every day for it!

(Little note…my family have all left the room…and this is probably divine intervention at this point.)  **read as “tears are flowing”**

In just a few weeks, our friends are moving,  short 14 hour drive away.

And here returns my fears from years and years of good-byes.  My heart & head knows this friendship is different from every other, but it still doesn’t make it easier.

I anticipate many days of tears between now and then…and after, if I’m honest with myself.  I find myself pouring over my calendar to see just how many days we possibly get together before then.  There aren’t many.

I’m am so excited for them.  Really!  I can’t wait to hear what God is doing through this wonderful little family!

My heart is just selfish. ;)

So with that, I’ll say:  Thanks guys!  You are truly God-sent friends.  We can make 14 hours work, I know it.   I can’t promise I’ll be able to hold back the tears when we come to help you pack. Love ya!

-De

Why I’m Not a Reader

It’s mommy confession time my friends.  I’m married to an author, yet I’m not an avid reader.  People don’t get this about me.

Well let me tell you why I don’t read very often…

I LOVE READING!!!

There.  Is that a good enough reason for you?  Are you laughing at my insanity?  (It’s okay.  I’m laughing a bit myself.)

Let me ‘splain. No there is too much, let me sum up.

When I read, as I’m sure many of you do, I enter into a little bubble world where I am engulfed in the setting of the book.  The characters are real people. Friends. Enemies. I am an onlooker, with a personal window into these beautiful worlds.  I get lost there.  I allow the windows of my imagination to open and distant worlds flood my brain.

And then…just as soon as all is well and established in this world…and usually in a moment of intensity…

“Mommy!” interrupted

*World dissolves.  Friends disappear.*

It never fails.

According to my hubby, this moment is almost as bad as waking me from a deep sleep.  You never know what may happen.  You never know what may be said. :)

talktomeSo, this is why.  As much as I love reading, I just can’t escape into that world very often…at this point in life.  I want to appreciate all of the beautiful artwork (also known as scribbles on used paper) that my children are proud of and I must see at any particular moment.  I want them to tell me all the brilliant ideas they’ve come up with.  Without accidentally snapping at them for interrupting my world.  Most of all, I want them to read…and I feel that me getting grumpy while reading will hinder that.

I’m working on it.  I recently started re-reading my hubby’s book in the evenings, rather than watching meaningless tv to fill the time between dinner and bedtime.  Modelling reading as important & not being snippy when disturbed.  (It helps that I’ve read the book before.)

Be blessed!

-De

Revelations on a Sick Day

So, I’ve found myself bundled on the couch today, drinking plenty fluids, getting rest to fight off this cold, and watching a good bit of TV. This is not normal behavior for me, but even reading a book seems an exhausting concept for how I’ve felt.
Today I’ve had a revelation. We’ll, maybe not a true revelation because I’ve seen this for a while, but today I was overwhelmed with it. Anyway, back to this revelation. I can sum up many of the problems in our society with one word: MORE.

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When did consumerism take over? When did it really become necessary to have the newest & best?
I hate when I catch myself getting caught up in it. We all do it. Example…I’m currently drooling over the thought of purchasing a Silhouette. I’ve tried justifying it in many ways…but truth be told, it is far from a need.

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We honestly think that joy & happiness come in these things. But they don’t.

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty & hunger, abundance & need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13

Paul learned this. We can too.
Not that it’s easy. Not that we will always succeed. But let’s try, together. Let’s break the chains of this commercialism driven consumer culture!

-De