Snowflake Stocking Holders, Scotch Tape, and Uncooked Appetizers

 

Can we just get real about parties? I’m so bad at them. I love gathering with people. I love warm and cozy homes. I love good food. But sometimes, as in most of my waking life, I do not have it together enough to host these kinds of events. Because I’m a pastor’s wife, it’s probably assumed that I have an innate gift for hosting. I don’t. I really, really don’t. I’m really good at buying dinner rolls and putting them in my own basket and showing up at someone else’s dinner party.

I co-own a small home décor boutique so people assume my own house is put together. It’s not. Any energy and time I have is devoted to my husband, my son, my friends, and my shop. Last year, two of our Christmas stockings hung from gaudy snowflake hooks. One was broken; like the giant snowflake snapped in half and I still hung that sucker on the mantel. The icing on the cake? I had no third hook for our newborn son so his stocking hung from scotch tape. It’s true.

This doesn’t even come close to competing with the year before. Patrick and I were asked to host the first stop of the progressive dinner for church board members. They would leave our house and head to another pastor’s house where everything was perfectly in place. It is a rare gift to present perfect meals and make guests feel at home, but they do it with such ease. Knowing that our guests would be leaving our house and heading there makes this story that much better.

We had recently opened the shop and I was working full time. Taking off work just wasn’t an option, so I left my husband in charge (the one that usually counts on me to do creative and pretty things).

I left recipes and instructions and Patrick took the afternoon off to prepare for eleven board members and their spouses. This was still our newlywed phase when I had next to no legitimate, grown-up, home décor. I had an obnoxious table runner from the clearance section at Meijer to throw on the middle of our Ikea table, and that was about the extent of my Christmas cheer. I laid out bowls for Patrick because he’ll be the first to tell you that bags of chips are perfectly acceptable serving ware.

I arrived home from work twenty-three minutes before the dinner began. The stars really aligned for me that night, friends.

Patrick did an amazing job. He utilized every recipe and vague instruction I left. He even did the dishes as he cooked, unlike the other person living in the house who uses seventeen bowls, eighteen spatulas, five spoons, and a band saw when she bakes cookies (see: Ashley Cooper).

When guests arrived, Patrick greeted them while I tried to finish up last minute details in the kitchen. The kitchen and living room are divided by a wall so no one could see my flushed face as I raced back and forth from the oven to table. By this time, the living room was packed. For seating, we had an inconveniently designed couch, oversized ottoman, and foldout chair from my college dorm. I asked Patrick to stall by giving instructions on the appetizer-style meal.

“…And in the other crockpot, you’ll find bacon-wrapped sausages… try to eat the ones that are cooked,” he confidently announced.

He actually said that…to people…with ears. You guys. I died. I did a dramatic soap opera faint against the refrigerator because I knew no one could see me. Try to what now? We were now all involved in an involuntary game of Russian Roulette. I had visions of board members in hospital beds sick with salmonella. If I had been a guest at this shindig I would have quietly found my coat and hightailed it out of there while the lining of my stomach was still intact. Instead, our guests were gracious. They were kind and understanding and complimented our tacky décor and even our food. They thanked us for our ministry. And best of all, I got to leave my house about an hour later and enjoy two hours of carefree fellowship at the other pastor’s house, eating the most adorable individual mousse desserts I’ve ever seen.

While I think we’ll all agree that heart is more important than hosting abilities, I’m working on entertaining guests, one stocking holder and completely cooked appetizer at a time.

 

Ashley Cooper lives in West Michigan with her husband, Patrick, and their son, Maddox. She spends most of her time proving to be the poster child for the INFP personality type: founding multiple businesses in mere minutes and accepting Oscars, all via daydreams. She craves and values deep human connection while tiring easily from too much of said interaction. Her love languages are coffee, chocolate, and kind words. Ashley grew up in the church and has never known her life without Jesus. But it’s in the recent years that she’s discovered the value of the Church and what it means to live a life of relational ministry. Learn more about Ashley at harrisandwillow.com.

Finding Meaningful Connection

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another:
What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’ ~ C. S. Lewis

I am an extrovert. I like being around people and I thrive on conversations. I’ve been accused of smiling too much and, obviously, talking too much. I remember in high school lounging up against my locker on the second floor finishing up some homework while waiting on the morning bell to ring. Some upperclassmen walked by and I greeted them as they passed. I had no agenda of gaining their attention but felt I couldn’t ignore them. The grouchiest among them turned back to me and declared, “You’re too happy!” I simply shrugged off the comment with another smile and went back to my book.

I never expected to one day struggle with that joy, but that’s exactly what happened after a few moves in ministry. Enter 2010. I was 30 years old with a one-year-old and a four-year-old and a husband pastoring in solo ministry in “the middle of nowhere” Pennsylvania.  I consistently hit up the library for Story Hour to meet some moms and find friends for my little ones but none of these ladies went to my church. In fact, I taught my own kids Sunday School because mine were the only ones who regularly attended. I was all alone. When you’re all alone you start longing for connection. I was at a loss as to where to start my quest for some kindred spirits (enthusiastic nod to L.M. Montgomery’s quotable lines from Anne of Green Gables).

My husband had sent me a link posted by one of the pastors he followed on twitter. LeadingandLovingIt.com was a website that had resources, blog posts, and hosted online conferences for Pastor’s Wives and Women in Ministry. I “attended” the online conference in my lonely dining room during nap times that week. I sobbed in my tea cup a lot. The conference kept referring to these online groups to join. I ignored those invitations telling myself there wasn’t a group I could actually identify with. I felt stuck, alone, and afraid to be real to anyone, thinking I would reveal how much I was lacking. Wasn’t I supposed to be content?

It took another round of online conferences a year later for me to actually peek at what online groups were being offered. I found myself simultaneously checking the groups and crossing them off my mental list of options as I read the descriptions. Scrolling, scrolling, crossing off, crossing off until I reached one that jumped out at me. It said something along the lines of being the spouse to a pastor who was the only staff at their church. Bingo! That was me! But the group was full. Of course it was. Instant plummeting of my hopes. I clicked on the leader’s name and went to her blog. I liked what I read. But the group was full so I dejectedly went and unloaded my dishwasher. A day or two later I decided to email the leader and tell her I was encouraged by her blog and that perhaps someday I would join her group should it ever open up.

Wouldn’t you know that sweet leader messaged me back and told me she would love to add me to a facebook group even though there wasn’t room to join the virtual chat. Gulp. I had already written off the need to pursue this group. I started second guessing myself immediately, but the Lord kept prompting me to reply back.

I was added to the group. Interestingly enough, not even a week later, another group member announced she was transitioning out in order to lead her own group and a virtual chat slot opened up for me.

So much more than a mere chat slot became accessible to me. I gained relationships that I value to this day. These ladies understood me before they knew everything about me! We laughed together, cried together, PRAYED together! I think it was the third monthly chat that I found myself telling them embarrassing stories about myself in one breath and sharing my flaws in the next.

One of the ladies ended up moving from Chicago to only 40 minutes away from me. We started exchanging messages and got to know each other while she was packing up boxes. The two of us met at a Chick-fil-A with our kids soon after they moved (side note: they moved to our closest Christian Chicken establishment so clearly it was meant to be). Both sets of families can claim relationship together now. I’ve moved away from this particular friend since then, but we keep in contact regularly. Why, just yesterday, her preschool aged son gave me a tour of his house via the Marco Polo app. He was a newborn when we moved away but he knows me. The hubbies Zoom chat once a week to encourage each other. Our kids are pen pals. These are the times I am most thankful for technology, but more importantly, I’m grateful for how the Lord has used creativity in the minds of His people to find a way to bring connection. That’s what we all long for, isn’t it?

You don’t have to be an extrovert like me to find connection. It takes bravery, though. I had myself thinking I had nothing worth sharing before those ladies on that computer screen showed me differently. None of us looked the same, but we found so much in common. We didn’t live in the same states nor all share common denominations. What we had in common was life in ministry and all the things that entails (which is a blog post for another day). We have shared baby showers, a spouse’s heart attack, births, deaths, ministry joys and transitions, and SO MUCH PRAYER for and with each other.

Pastor’s Spouse Connection has been created for this very purpose. To help us connect to each other. We don’t have everything figured out as to all the avenues in which to effectively connect you, yet, but we are working diligently on this task. If you have some great ideas, we would love to hear about them. You’ll be able to share with us in the comment section or on our facebook page. How can we help you connect? Personally, I can guarantee it’s worth the effort on your part.

 

Jessica Sheets is a lover of Jesus and a former elementary teacher turned SAHM who can be found spontaneously bursting into song while scaling Mt. Laundry or baking for the next life group. She laughs every day thanks to her favorite individual, her husband Stevan, and her wonderful kids, Ella (10 yrs) and Ezra (7 yrs). Jess has been a pastor’s wife for 12 years and is usually the first to laugh (or turn beet red) during a sermon jest. She knew when she was 12 that the Lord was calling her to marry a pastor someday but had no idea what that really meant! She’s still learning along with Stevan as they navigate this adventure of ministry.

Wonderfully Made

 

Imagine an ultrasound picture of a precious baby. Or better yet, imagine holding that child in your hand while reading this Psalm (139):

13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.

It’s easy to believe all these words about the treasure of a fetus or the innocence of a small child. Why, though, is it so tough to have confidence in those verses about ourselves? God said He “knit” us together. He didn’t say He hammered us out with blunt force or mass produced us. He knit us; He took His time; He was purposeful with each stitch; He took care with us…with YOU. As we consider all the complexities of ourselves, we often will go immediately to our faults or how we compare to others. However, God sees a completely different picture. He is holding us in His hand – the beautiful creation He knit – satisfied with the wonderful, intricate, and delicate person He made. He is our Creator…He understands us.

I believe God confronted me with how well He knew me. In my spirit, I heard Him ask, “Amy, do you know when you are feeling good about yourself on certain days? You can walk into a room and turn on the charm, answer all the questions, and have lots of confidence?” I replied with a sheepish, “Yes,” wondering where He was going. He stated, “You are making it all about you.” Gulping, I sensed Him pressing on, “Do you know when you are feeling not-so-great about yourself on certain days? You walk into a room hoping to hide, try not to talk much or bring attention to yourself?” Again I replied, “Yes.” And again, He calmly said, “You are making it all about you.” In those moments of pruning, I realized He was right. Either way I was gravitating on a random day, I was choosing not to dwell on God Himself. If I’m going to have confidence, it had better be in Him and not my good hair day, thinking my clothes are fitting better, or whether I have something profound to contribute to the conversation. What would it look like if I walked into a room humble but confident in WHO made me and in that Creator’s declaration that I’m wonderful? I could let down my guard, completely be myself, and allow God to use me according to His original design for me.

This lesson has changed me. Of course, I definitely still have days when the enemy is all over my mind trying to get me to deny I’m a child of God. That’s when I know it’s time to read the next two verses and choose to claim them.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.

 

Amy Luedtke has a passion to see people grow deeper in Christ and find their identity and freedom in Him, especially through prayer and the Word. She has been married to Pastor Jeff Luedtke for 21 years and they have two teenage children, Bryce and Jordan. They currently serve the kingdom at Fairmount Wesleyan Church in the Crossroads District of Indiana. Dr. Luedtke has degrees in Marriage and Family Counseling and Psychology and has taught for Indiana Wesleyan University’s Psychology Department for 17 years. She is also pursuing ordination in the Wesleyan Church. In her free time, she enjoys reading, exercising, laying in hammocks, scrapbooking, and playing board games.

Why Can’t I Have Lifelong Friends?

 

As a pastor’s wife of 25 years, I was told several times that my best friends cannot be in the church where my spouse is pastoring, but I believe my church family is part of God’s family and if they cannot be part of my inner circle of friends, then what does that say to the church? Also, what am I saying to the unchurched? Most of my lifelong friends have come from our congregations and sharing my life with them is what God intended friendship to be? I don’t need a safe place to gossip or complain about my church. I need friends who can help me solve problems and make our church better. Being transparent as a leader is imperative.

If I refuse to develop intimate friendships within the church, then I am eliminating many influential relationships with other people. I am also withholding my friendship from people who may desperately need a good friend. Making and maintaining close friendships is difficult, but it is worth the effort. Through these years of ministry, I have come to discover that many of us struggle with establishing, developing, and keeping deep lasting friends.

I have read over 20 articles about friendship and the theme of most of them is what NOT to do in a friendship. Well, I want to share with you five principles that we SHOULD be doing to create the types of friendships we all long for.

One: This first one seems obvious but I am talking about the power of God’s love in us. We need to understand God’s love for us before we can truly love others. We are to love as Christ loves. Experiencing the overwhelming joy that comes from knowing that God loves me not because of what I do, or who I am…He just loves ME. That gives us a confidence to share that love with others. Without that security we tend to depend on our friends to make us feel loved instead of having a vessel full of love to overflow to them.

Two: In our busy world, we need to understand the commitments that others have and give them the flexibility to meet the needs of their families, jobs, and church while finding ways to stay connected and build the friendship.

Three: Finding time for others must be intentional. Friends who say, “we need to get together,” but do not mark the date on their calendars will most likely not get together. We must set time aside for our friends. We also need to be intentional about what we share when we are together. Ask intentional questions to dig deeper in the relationship. Don’t just talk about superficial things if you want to make a lasting connection.

Four: Don’t let one failed meeting; the one “I can’t make it today” or distance keep you from being friends. Be persistent and find out what works. I have friends that I see quite often and friends that are far away. Being persistent in making the connections happen is key to keeping those relationships alive and healthy.

Five: We all make mistakes, are forgetful at times, or misunderstand each other. Be willing to work through the hard stuff to keep a friend around.  I have seen several deep friendships split up over minor problems that escalate and tear people apart. Remember that Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy and that goes for godly friendships. He doesn’t want us to have friends that challenge us in our walk with Christ.

Finding and keeping a true friend will require implementing each of these principles, but I would add one more: prayer. In each one of our moves I have prayed for God to bring someone into my life who would like to build a lasting friendship. The desire for connection should go both ways, so don’t be afraid to ask God to lead you to someone who wants the same thing.

 

Beverly and her husband have been married twenty-eight years and have served in ministry twenty-six of those. They have four amazing children, three awesome daughters-in-laws, and two outstanding grandsons. Beverly has a B.S. in Secondary Mathematics Education from Oklahoma Wesleyan University and is currently a certified teacher in Michigan. She has held many jobs over her years as a pastor’s wife, and God has used them all to shape who she is today. She has been a teacher, a store clerk, an office manager, a librarian, a stay-at-home and homeschooling mom, a business owner, and now adds writer/speaker to this list. (You can check out her book “Flourish: Enjoying Life as the Pastor’s Wife” on Amazon.) She loves camping, playing Pokémon Go, singing, scrapbooking, reading, and loving on her family. She feels very blessed by God and hopes to continue in His mission for the rest of her life. If you enjoy this post, you can see more at beverlykimball.com.

Time Away

 

This month we are sharing tips on the blog to assist pastoral families in getting away for much needed rest and relaxation. We know that busy schedules and limited financial resources can make this a challenge. A few weeks ago we shared a post by Kathy Drury that featured practical, money-saving tips for travel (find her post here). Along with that helpful information, we want to highlight another great opportunity. There are many ministries and individuals who have a heart to support pastoral families by providing free and reduced cost retreats and vacations. To learn a little more about this, we are re-visiting a post from last year by Danielle Freed, a pastor’s spouse and member of our PSC team, who has found this to be a huge blessing for her family.

Vacation planning season is upon us! Maybe you’re making plans for Summer vacation, too. As a pastor’s family though, often a family getaway can seem out of reach. Whether you don’t feel that you have the time, the money or other resources; vacation can often end up a “staycation”, a quick trip to Grandma’s, or even something that a pastor’s family “just doesn’t take”. Our family had hit a place where we had time to take vacation, and really needed time away just the four of us, however, we were in the middle of a tough year with our family’s health and because of costs of medical care, finances were just not there for vacation.

After a simple post on social media looking for recommendations for an affordable vacation spot for our family, a pastor’s spouse friend of ours suggested applying for a vacation through an organization that helps pastors and their families get the much needed time away at a very affordable cost. We applied for a vacation time and were accepted. We were blessed with two weeks in a four bedroom home in central Florida–the only “catch” was we had to stay for 12-14 days, no less, to ensure our family had time to truly unplug, decompress, then reconnect. This particular organization holds this standard high, believing that a pastor’s family needs and deserves time and space to have a great vacation to make the pastor and their family healthier ministers!

For us, the house cost nothing to rent, we were just asked to pay a professional cleaning fee. Our family has never had so much time together! It was fun, so relaxing, and there wasn’t the financial pressure that can often take away from being able to enjoy vacation, especially for 2 weeks. Because the housing was almost free, we were able to take our kids to a couple of the theme parks in Florida and make life-long memories. The organizations “rule” of mandating two weeks of time away was helpful in ensuring we took plenty of time away from the church and ministry.  It was so healthy and helpful to take two weeks to find space for our marriage and quality time with our kids. This year, we’re blessed to have been accepted again and continue looking forward to this year’s getaway while still holding the fond memories of the fun and connecting that we had last summer.

An extensive state-by-state listing of discounted or free vacations for pastors and missionaries can be found on Lawrence Wilson’s blog. This includes retreat centers, bed and breakfasts, resorts, and more. Go to lawrencewilson.com/free-retreats-vacations-pastors. Wesleyan spouses can also check out this web page compiled by the Division of Education and Clergy Development of The Wesleyan Church.

 

Danielle Freed has been happily married for 14 years. She spent the first half of her marriage as a co-laborer and staff pastor’s wife in established churches in Wisconsin and Indiana.  The second half has been planting a church in Indiana alongside her husband, John, that is focused on reaching unchurched and dechurched people with the real and relevant love of Jesus. She is mommy to active and creative Dean, sweet and spunky Dayanna, and her golden doodle, Fozzie. Danielle loves a good cup of coffee, a good hearty laugh, and serious bargain shopping. She lives to witness first hand, the life changing movement of Jesus in people everyday, even when it’s hard or messy.

 

Want to Get Away?

 

I love to travel. Always have. However, with little ones at home as a stay-at-home mom, living on my staff pastor husband’s salary, I needed to use serious cost-cutting skills to make those trips happen. Below I share some tips that may help you make your next trip possible.

Passes with Reciprocity

Find a museum or zoo or whatever it is you want to go to (usually it will be near where you live). Then find out on its website who it shares its passes with and pay for a one year membership and enter these other locations for free or a great discount. As an example, we lived near Minnetrista, a cultural center about 30 miles away. It cost us $75 a year for a family membership which allowed us to go there free. It also allowed us into over 300 gardens in the US through the American Horticultural Society –  ahsgardening.org. It also gave us connection to almost all the science centers in the US through astc.org/passport. Just follow the guidelines before you go as each location can set their own rules for use. There are other organizations that do this as well including the Smithsonian – affiliations.si.edu/affiliate-benefits/membership/affiliate-reciprocal-membership and lots of zoos – aza.org/reciprocity, or for more museums – narmassociation.org. If you have a 4th grader, this one is amazing if you are headed to a National park – everykidinapark.govIf no 4th graders are in your family, you can buy the “America the Beautiful” pass to see all National parks in a year for $80 per car. A bonus to US Military – you get the pass for free, and seniors can get a lifetime pass for $80.

Accommodations

If funds are tight, find other friends who live in a place you’d like to visit and house swap. It can be wise to ask friends and family if they have connections to free or low cost options as well. Our favorite is homeaway.com (vrbo.com and airbnb.com would be similar) where we find a home or condo to rent. We have found several great homes that were cheaper than a hotel…and fit our family of 5 better than a hotel room. They provide a kitchen which helps save lots of money by not needing to eat out as often. This option also provides more space for everyone to spread out and make noise if needed or have quiet spaces to read and rest. You can also find Groupon deals for resorts and other lodging options. Camping is another low cost option. If you don’t have the gear, ask around. Someone you know likely has gear you can borrow that is unused in their storage.

Big Cities

I suggest staying just outside of a big city for lower costs on hotels and parking fees. If public transportation is available, it is a great way to get around town more economically. Parking in large cities can cost as much as a multi-day pass on the subway, which you will likely want to secure for moving about town. Grab counter-service foods or go to a local grocery or farmer’s market and get some food to eat at a park. Often you can find festivals or free concerts in parks. Some cities offer historical sites to see that are also free. We have even gone to libraries for fun. Check out what they are offering for free classes or events too.

Car Rentals, Cruises, and Airlines

Just some simple tips here. Southwest is a great airline for everyone, but especially families. It’s all we will fly as a family if at all possible. If something comes up and let’s say someone in your family gets really sick, there are no change fees to cancel and rebook. Other airlines charge up to $200 per ticket to change a domestic reservation. Also, bags fly free so all that gear you might have to take with you can just be sent through baggage. When you book a car rental, know that if you just rent the car and get a confirmation number and you don’t pre-pay, you can easily cancel your reservation and rebook if plans change or you find a lower rate later. This works well if you book months in advance and your remember to check rates every few weeks or so. Cruises are similar. Usually you can book way ahead when rates are lowest and if something changes and you decide not to go, you can get all your money back up to 60 days prior to sailing.

Let’s Talk Money

Budgeting is the best way to make vacations possible rather than going into credit card debt to take a needed vacation. Set aside a little bit regularly and build up a small fund for your next trip (even if you don’t know when that will be). You can ask for money or gift cards for Christmas or birthday gifts that can help you build that fund up too since the vacation time might be more of a blessing to you and your kids than more possessions. We have a vacation even when we don’t have plans for a trip. Because of that fund we are ready to go somewhere, and we will already have set money aside for it. Every paycheck my husband gets, a little bit goes to the vacation fund. I don’t want to promote credit cards, but if you can use them wisely and pay them off monthly, over time you can get reward money for vacation travel. We have a Disney credit card for this purpose in particular.

When Should We Go

If possible, it is best to travel in the off-peak season. That is the least busy and lowest cost time to go almost anywhere. It’s often worth it to take younger kids, sometimes even older kids, out of school to make this happen. Homeschoolers can achieve off-season travel even more easily than others, of course. If Disney is on your bucket list, I highly suggest an off-season visit for dozens of reasons. A good rule of thumb is that when kids are in school, rates are lowest, when kids are out of school, they are highest in most any location.

Plan ahead

Use the internet or get books to research where you are going. Search for event calendars online to find out what will be happening when you are there. Sometimes the visitors bureau or county will have these calendars on their websites. There might be smaller, but still amazing places and events to visit if you look into it just a bit before you arrive.

Our spouses are not in ministry for the money, they have been called. Many times their pay is reasonable, but often we have to be very frugal and intentional to make the most of travel time to ensure we are getting the rest and recuperation needed for difficult ministry seasons. A break for a week or even just a few days from the dailiness of ministry can be refreshing. So, I hope you are able to catch a little time away with your family or friends in the near future.

 

Kathy Drury loves to travel and find fun new places to go. She travels most with her husband, David, and her 2 teens and a pre-teen who reside in Fishers, IN.

Whose Call Is It Anyway – Part 3

 

Roles or Rolls?

Early in 2017, three of my four children decided that they were going to make a major life change and become vegan. Yes, that is right – no meat, no dairy, no taste. Needless to say, our first vegan Thanksgiving this past November was very different. We all had our own expectations of the meal, however, there was one thing that everyone still expected…fresh, baked rolls. Thank you, Rhodes frozen dough!

Wait, this is about roles we play, not rolls we eat.

As the spouse of a person in ministry, you may be aware of the various expectations that people have of you. Culture, family members, fellow church members, community, and maybe even your spouse – have ideas about who you are to them and to others. They have expectations of roles you may or may not want to play. How does this make you feel? Excited or overwhelmed?

When you hear of the expectations that others have of you, you are free to consider them in light of God’s truth. There is ultimately no threat to your dignity or worth, because the God who created all things has set your identity. Who you are in Christ never changes and is not threatened. God is the one whose name is “I am”, and He says, “Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” Isaiah 43:1

“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

The thing I love most about this verse is that it talks about the good things that HE (God) has planned for us to do.

But let’s be honest…

This doesn’t mean we never have to do something we don’t want to do or feel gifted to do. It just means that we don’t find our identity in whether we do them or not. If we do something, we do it unto the Lord and because of His love and call to us at salvation. And if we don’t, we make this choice knowing that our Father loves us because we are His children and not because of anything we can “do” to earn His acceptance.

Oh, that church people were that understanding!

Where are these expectations coming from? There aren’t any verses that outline in the scripture the role of a ministry spouse. Despite this, many spouses are viewed as a staff member, honorary elder, or even a co-pastor.

Why are we so prone to setting up false expectations for ourselves and for others? What is it about us that makes us eager to go after false expectations and try to satisfy them? Is it because we think we know better than the One who created us? The One who calls us?

If we truly knew all of the expectations that others have of us, it might paralyze us. But there is one expectation that we can have of ourselves that will free us. We must expect that we are always dependent on God’s grace (and so is everyone else). The more our failures and weaknesses can point us to this one great expectation, the better. 

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the eternal inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24

You may already have an idea of what your role in service to the church ought to be. Other people, including those outside the church may also be happy to categorize you as well. We need to remember that each ministry is unique and each marriage is unique and God has uniquely gifted us for the position and role we are in.

We are all called. We are all called to love and respect our spouses as they lead with Christ-like humility.  If we have children, we are called to love them and help make a godly home (and rolls) for them. We are called to love the lost, make disciples, and serve the suffering. In this, we can live in restful assurance that we are doing what we ought to do!

I want to answer God’s call, be found in Him, and serve Him in whatever role He has for me.

This is my prayer for you today, my ministry spouse partner:

“…to this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11

 

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series for more great insights on this topic. 

 

Sherry Gorveatte grew up in a pastor’s home and said she would never marry a pastor and so she did!  Alongside her husband, Mark (who is also a PK), she has served in ministry roles including youth pastor’s wife, pastor’s wife, district superintendent’s wife, and university president’s wife. Sherry and Mark currently serve in the Crossroads District of The Wesleyan Church where Mark is the District Superintendent. In addition to her various ministry roles, Sherry is a CPA and has her own business specializing in ministerial taxation and nonprofit accounting. She is also the mom to four awesome children.

Whose Call Is It Anyway – Part 2

 

A Case of Mistaken Identity.

I remember well the 2006 news story of a horrific auto accident which claimed the lives of five Taylor University students. In the midst of the chaos, one of the deceased students was identified as Whitney Cerak. Whitney’s parents had her funeral and another family sat on the bedside vigil of a young woman they believed was their daughter – for five weeks. When this young girl started to regain consciousness, it was discovered that this was not who they thought it was. This was Whitney Cerak not their daughter, Laura. Laura was gone and Whitney was alive – an almost unbelievable case of mistaken identity.

I was privileged to hear Whitney speak in person as she recalled the facts of the story and the impact it had on her mentally and physically. Although I could not identify with the facts of her story, I could identify with the idea of being called by a name I did not recognize.

Who am I? Where am I? What am I? Am I supposed to be playing some sort of role? If so, where is the script? And who wrote the script? When we are not sure of these things, we can find ourselves improvising in ways that are less than satisfying and even self-destructive. It turns into a case of mistaken identity.

I remember these thoughts very well in one of the first ministry positions that my husband, Mark, had. I was trying to be all things to all people. It turned into disaster. Thanks to some loving friends, a forgiving spouse, and a perfect Heavenly Father, I was able to do a restart.

Things in my personal life and ministry life changed when I returned to this most fundamental thought. I am loved and redeemed by Christ and my identity at the most basic level is “in Christ.”

What thoughts enter your mind when someone asks, “Who are you?” It’s okay to say where you live or your nationality or something that identifies you in the context they are asking. If I am visiting the university where my daughter attends, I identify myself as “Jordan’s mom.”

But more than that – what is your identity? By what or by whom do you define yourself?

What does it really mean to call yourself a Christian? To call yourself a Christian is to embrace the cross and everything it says about who God is and who you are. You are in Christ. The cross says that God loves us in ways that we cannot comprehend (Eph. 3:19). The cross says that God has provided the righteous standing we need to dwell in His holy presence and not die (2 Cor. 5:21). Because of what Christ did for us, we are no longer slaves but children of God and if His children, then heirs with Christ (Gal. 4:7). We have these things by faith, which is a gift so none of us can boast (Eph. 2:8-9). There are so many scriptures in God’s Word which explain who we are in Christ.

Whenever we speak of our identity as being a woman or a man, a husband or a wife, a parent, a pastor’s spouse, those should all stem from the reference point of being “in Christ”. Every hat we wear or role we play must be viewed through this perspective. Our identify must always be found in Him.

I have to remember:

My successes do not define me.

My failures do not define me.

My gifts and talents do not define me.

Who I am in Christ defines me.

WHOSE I am defines me.

A child of God – that is who I truly am!

And that is no mistake!

 

If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can read more from Sherry here.

 

Sherry Gorveatte grew up in a pastor’s home and said she would never marry a pastor and so she did!  Alongside her husband, Mark (who is also a PK), she has served in ministry roles including youth pastor’s wife, pastor’s wife, district superintendent’s wife, and university president’s wife. Sherry and Mark currently serve in the Crossroads District of The Wesleyan Church where Mark is the District Superintendent. In addition to her various ministry roles, Sherry is a CPA and has her own business specializing in ministerial taxation and nonprofit accounting. She is also the mom to four awesome children.

 

Whose Call Is It Anyway? – Part 1

 

Does anyone remember the TV show hosted by Drew Carey called “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”  The premise of the show is that Drew takes suggestions from the audience or has predetermined ones. He assigns roles and scenarios to the comedian contestants who must improvise a skit on the spot.

This show reminds me of my life sometimes as the spouse of a pastor.

I’ve been the spouse of a church planter, youth pastor, music pastor, assistant pastor, lead pastor, solo pastor, district superintendent, Wesleyan university president. What’s left?

I’ve almost got enough gray to qualify to be the spouse of the senior citizen’s pastor!

I promise you in each of these roles there were times that I felt like someone came up and put a label on me, and I started to improvise.  Like in the TV show, I was expected to perform without a script.

These times have led me to have thoughts like, “Hey, my spouse is the pastor, not me!” “I didn’t sign up for this.”  “My wedding vows did not include church custodian and/or nursery director!”  Many times I have asked this question, “Hey, whose call is it anyway?”

These expectations really burdened me until I began to think about a call to ministry in a different way.

In the book The Call, Os Guinness has some enlightening ideas concerning the idea of “call”.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated “call” usually has the same meaning as our English word. Humans call to each other, to God. To call means to name, and to name means to call into being or to make. “God called the light day.”

However, in the New Testament, “call” is almost always synonymous with salvation – God’s calling people to himself as followers of Christ.  Could this mean that when we are saved, we are called??

“The core of our existence is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are and do and have is invested with a special devotion and direction lived out as a response to his summons and service.” – Os Guinness

Os goes on to talk about a general calling. Each person is formed by the Creator to know him and to be known deeply by him. God calling me to Himself is an intimate holy knowing. He knows me like no one else. The more I come to know him, the more I come to know my purpose for existing.

We have a general calling and a specific calling.  The more we come to know the One who has called us, the more courage we have to look at our own stories and explore our individual purpose and naming.

So, we are all called.  In HIS call, there is no sacred or secular.

So, hey, it’s your call!!!!

When you answer God’s call, you can become who He has called you to be.

 

Sherry Gorveatte grew up in a pastor’s home and said she would never marry a pastor and so she did!  Alongside her husband, Mark (who is also a PK), she has served in ministry roles including youth pastor’s wife, pastor’s wife, district superintendent’s wife, and university president’s wife. Sherry and Mark currently serve in the Crossroads District of The Wesleyan Church where Mark is the District Superintendent. In addition to her various ministry roles, Sherry is a CPA and has her own business specializing in ministerial taxation and nonprofit accounting. She is also the mom to four awesome children.

Have Yourselves an Intentional Little Christmas

 

Cookies, carols, and chaos…these are the sounds, smells and reality of Christmas in our little ministry family this time of year! I don’t know about you but I find myself thinking, “December needs about 6 weeks in it instead of 4!” as we try to squeeze in one more church service, event or holiday party. For many of us the stress of impending family celebrations may also be looming over our heads. Do you travel many miles to be home with family over holidays? Do they come to you so you’re frantically trying to visualize room for one more air mattress while simultaneously trying to practice choreography for the Children’s Musical? All of these things, while great on their own, can compound into one big ball of stress. How do you decompress? Do you lay in a coma on the couch after the Christmas Eve service? Maybe you hibernate until January 1st? Or, perhaps you have young children so there is no rest for the weary and you will trudge on until the next scheduled nap or bedtime. Whatever your present reality is, let me encourage you. We’re in this together. We see you. We understand your feelings. We can empathize with the wondering if that special relative will give you a hard time for not coming to the family Christmas until after all the church services have ended.  We get you!

As a couple, my husband and I don’t have it all figured out yet. I won’t likely ever feel confident in this balancing act. Instead, we have tried to be intentional with making our own special memories each year around this season. We’ve moved several times. These traditions have been carried out regardless of our zip code. Here are a few things that we try to do.

Christmas Music – We sing it, and we play it as much as we can! There are so many renditions of the same songs but we always find our favorite artists for that particular year and play them until we could probably cut our own album!

Sweet Treats – My kids love it when the sign-up sheet for the class holiday party comes home. They’ve practically written down that their momma will bring the sweet treat before they’ve shown me the paper. Their faces are so expectant. The thought that they are almost too old to be excited for this makes me check that box and sign my name. It’s really a small thing to commit to when I think about how special it is to them. If you have kids and baking isn’t your thing, sign up for the festive napkins and plates. Dollar Tree is your friend. Find out in November how many are in their classes and buy them as soon as they show up in the store. Their little school party can be made special even if you really just want school to be over.

Christmas Tree Time Lapse – We have a fake tree! I said it. Let your judgements fall. For us, the fake tree saves our sanity every year. We can decorate during Thanksgiving break and actually enjoy our tree for the entire crazy month of December. We take it a step further than merely decorating said tree. My brilliant husband and his techy creativity has taken the chore of tree set up to an anticipated event in our house. The man sets up a camera and records a time lapse of our entire decorating experience. Each year, time is spent editing the footage into a fun little video that we can share with family and friends. We started this tradition on our daughter’s first Christmas. She is 11 years old now. Family members many miles away can watch and feel like they are in the living room with us. Our kids love to watch all of the past years together to see how they have grown and how our houses (mostly parsonages) have changed. We sit around the screen and laugh and remember. The last few minutes of every video will find us circling the tree and praying together as a family. Those are my favorite spots to pause on. We pray for us as a family. We thank the Lord for His evident hand in our lives. We pray for renewed strength to trust in Him for our every need. These moments are so special.

We are called to a different life. We are THAT family. We don’t have to apologize for it nor should we have to defend it. I have learned that I have to own it. We are a team. We GET to have a front row seat to watching Jesus intercede in others’ lives! We might even get to hand off that envelope to a needy family because the generous benefactor didn’t want their name attached.

What do you GET to do because of ministry life?

How have you been intentional with your family during the holidays?

Enjoy our latest time lapse here and may you and yours have a very special Christmas! Minute 3:15 is where I hit pause!

 

Jessica Sheets is a lover of Jesus and a former elementary teacher turned SAHM who can be found spontaneously bursting into song while scaling Mt. Laundry or baking for the next life group. She laughs every day thanks to her favorite individual, her husband Stevan, and her wonderful kids, Ella (10 yrs) and Ezra (7 yrs). Jess has been a pastor’s wife for 12 years and is usually the first to laugh (or turn beet red) during a sermon jest. She knew when she was 12 that the Lord was calling her to marry a pastor someday but had no idea what that really meant! She’s still learning along with Stevan as they navigate this adventure of ministry.