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.

 

The Important Things

 

Balancing God, family, church, activities, friends, self-care, whatever else life throws at you… it is not easy. Every so often I get a clear snap-shot of how I am doing. This look usually comes during a time of transition, when I move from one season of life to another.

In January, a two-year-old boy came to live with us. He came from a very hard place. Adding him into our family grew us from a unit of five to a circus of six. The Fuersts had just gotten to the point where we no longer needed diaper bags, naps, stringent bed times, and sippy cups. Now, we were right back into the middle of a different season of life… one that moved a lot more slowly so little legs could keep up. So how did we find balance?

Balance began with me being honest with myself. Honest about what I am capable of doing. Honest about where I am. Honest about identifying the important things for this particular season of life. Each season comes with natural limitations. Limitations we need to embrace and honor so we can be healthy. When I don’t embrace these limitations I start to feel like too little butter on too much toast.

Adopting a child called for a major slow down.

To fully form as Fuerst party of 6, some things needed to go. We couldn’t be out every night of the week. The older kids had to let go of some of their weeknight activities. We told them they could each do one thing. My oldest daughter, Phoebe, was in Girl Scouts and sports. We told her she had to choose. It wasn’t easy for her, she loved both. Her decision led to good conversations about her interests and desires. It also helped us teach her about limitations and boundaries.

I also had to say “no” to some things. I just couldn’t keep saying “yes” and still be healthy. I had to cut back on my involvement with the women’s ministry at my church. I love working with women, but the higher priority right now is shaping my young family and making plenty of time for my own well-being. Self care is essential to ensure I have the energy required to care for my crazy crew. In another season, when my children are older, when everyone is in school, I might pick up women’s ministry again. Saying “no” now doesn’t mean I will always have to say “no.”

The first step to balance is making a list of what is most important in this season of life. Narrow it down to four or five things. Then start saying “yes,” and more importantly “no” based on this list. Let your list help you weed out the non-essentials. You can’t find balance when you have too many things going, even if most of them are church things.  Realize you don’t have to do everything right now. There will be time in the future when you enter a new season. No season lasts forever.  Someday we will be done with diapers. I am sure it will come.

 


Cassie Fuerst is a quiet soul, who needs a lot of time and space to process life around her. She stays at home, acting as administrator of chaos for her four children. Her husband, Tom, has been in ministry for 10 years. She loves creating community by going to coffee with friends, having people in her home, and talking to people on the edges. She lives in Memphis, Tennessee.

Breakaway 2017

 

It is hard to believe Breakaway 2017 has come and gone. We shared a wonderful couple days together with spouses from around the country. The event was featured in an article on wesleyan.org that we wanted to share with you. Click here to see a recap of this time of refreshment and renewal for pastors’ spouses. 

We also wanted to share a testimonial from the event. Julie Lamb, a pastor’s spouse and worship leader from Colorado, made the trip to the Indianapolis area for her first Breakaway and wrote the thoughts below about her experience at this year’s event.

I am flying home after Breakaway, a gathering with Pastor’s spouses, where truth was spoken over us and tears were shed in vulnerability. Our hearts grasped — for some, perhaps for the first time — that our identities are not anchored in others’ expectations of us or in the roles we tend to play that were never meant to define us. We paused for a few days to breathe and allow God to redefine us… letting go of mistaken identities… leaning into who God uniquely designed us to be.  My heart is encouraged…lighter.

God set us on a journey in ministry of restoring a portion of His Creation back to Him, and the privilege and responsibility could not be more real. I am grateful for the team who poured their time and talent into crafting an event that encouraged and challenged us, men and women gathered from all across the country where they serve on the front lines of ministry. I am grateful for Whitney Wheeler’s courage to tell her own story. I am grateful for new friendships that were forged and for old friendships that were reconnected. I am grateful for a prayer partner to connect with consistently upon returning home.

I wasn’t sure what to expect in attending Breakaway.  Would it be worth buying a plane ticket and all the travel expense to travel from Colorado? Would it be an event where everyone talks about surface realities and doesn’t really dive into the heart of what we’re navigating in our own contexts?  Would I come home exhausted?

What I experienced was a breath of fresh air.  We were offered an opportunity to navigate how God has wired us each individually in how we connect with Him through Gwen Jackson’s session on her new book Unforced Rhythms. We were drawn in as Sherry Gorveatte shared experiences from her journey of ministry and reminded us of the truth that God’s image is impressed upon each of us.  We were given space to enjoy some down time, the gift of Sabbath built into the weekend. The food was great, the breakout sessions were inspiring, conversations were life-giving, and I left with an encouraged and rested heart.

The PSC team has been so blessed to hear these types of responses from those who were able to come to Breakaway this year. Whether you come to an event or engage with Pastor’s Spouse Connection through online opportunities, we count it a privilege to be able to walk this journey with you. We love and appreciate you for who you are and are so grateful for the many ways we see you allowing God to work in and through you.

Balancing Life and Ministry

 

I long for simplicity. For a life marked by grace and peace. But the reality is, mountain after mountain, wave after wave, there is nothing simple about ministry. When your eyes are opened to a world of people who don’t yet know their Savior — seeing identities unrealized, myths believed, fears won, courage unused, faith untouched — the weight of the task we have been called to is tremendous.

We put our faith to the test daily, trusting God to order our steps. But in the midst of our faithfulness to God’s call on our lives and the churches we lead, we have our own marriages and children to nurture. We have houses to keep, groceries to buy, sports and school schedules to juggle. We have friends, neighbors, and co-workers to love. Not to mention navigating the whole realm of social media, where the fire hydrant of opinion never seems to diminish. Our lives accumulate layer upon layer, and over time, the balance scale plummets in favor of exhaustion and depletion instead of life-giving and whole.

Shauna Niequist says this: “The twin undercurrents of being a woman and being a Christian is sort of a set-up for getting off track with this stuff – women are raised to give and give and give, to pour themselves out indiscriminately and tirelessly. And Christians, or some anyway, are raised to ignore their own bodies, their own pain, their own screaming souls, on behalf of the other, the kingdom, the church.”

This was exactly where I found myself a year and a half ago. I was working full-time in our local elementary school as an aid in the significant support needs (SSN) special education classroom which required enormous amounts of physical and mental energy, all the while serving as children’s ministry director and worship leader for our church plant. I poured every ounce of myself into my work both in and outside of the church reserving what fumes I had left for my family. My personal balance scale had plummeted in favor of exhaustion and depletion. I think sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking that if we simplify our lives enough, if we cut the fat, we will find balance. Balance isn’t the absence of chaos or a lack of struggle. It is peace in the midst of both the simple and the overwhelming.

Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG): “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew wrote these words long before our world operated as chaotically as it does today. Yet somehow it’s a thread of truth that remains ever true. We continue to find ourselves in moments where we are tired, out of sync, and unbalanced. So where’s the hope?

As hard as we try, we will never eliminate all of the factors that make our lives unbalanced. But, we can take a close look at the areas of our lives that may be out of sync. Matthew reminds us to yoke ourselves to Jesus and learn His unforced rhythms of grace. The rhythms I experienced in that season were geared toward survival. When you’re in survival mode, you don’t think about things like rest, freedom, or peace. We may not be able to control all of the things that create an imbalance in our lives, but we can be intentional about establishing rhythms where we’re leaning into God as He speaks into our hearts and minds, listening as we’re yoked to Him.

Two tools that I have found helpful in establishing healthy, unforced, rhythms in this season of ministry are found in Sacred Ordinary Days. (You can learn more on their website at www.sacredordinarydays.com). Sacred Ordinary Days is a planning system that follows the liturgical calendar (the life of Christ), anchoring everyday tasks and activities in a framework rooted in God’s story fostering spiritual formation. Two spiritual practices built into each week, the Rule of Life and the Examen, have been incredibly helpful for me in establishing an awareness of what may be out of sync as I go about my days.

When establishing a Rule of Life, you consider how God has uniquely wired you and together with God set a guideline of values and priorities of how to live your days, focusing on seven key areas: spirit, body, mind, relationships, home, work, and resources. Once you set your values, you have a benchmark to use in your weekly Examen to reflect and reset for the coming week. I have found this resource to be a life-giving rhythm that God uses to pour out His grace over my days. It has been so freeing to look back at the week that is closing and ask some hard questions and answer honestly! What can you celebrate? What needs tending? You start to see progress and experience a more balanced existence when revisiting key areas of your life through the weekly Examen.

I am in a season now where I work alongside my husband in ministry full-time. We work from home, because we are still a portable church meeting in our local elementary school each Sunday. Home is where we work and where we dwell. Home is where we meet with our staff, and host families for dinner. It’s where we retreat and enjoy family time. So finding balance in this season is a new challenge. The lines continue to remain blurry between ministry and family life, but being yoked to Jesus and keeping company with Him, I am learning to live freely and lightly through His unforced rhythms of grace.

 

Julie Lamb is a church planter’s spouse, worship pastor, and mom. She spends her days creating safe worship environments for people to take their next step toward Jesus. She loves encouraging and investing in pastors’ spouses as they navigate the joys and challenges of ministry, especially those in church planting. She enjoys cappuccinos, hiking, and the ocean breeze. She is married to Nate, and they live in Colorado with their daughters Emily, Lauren, and Olivia.