PW Connect (www.pastorswives.com) is the sister blog of Pastors' Wives Thriving in the Fishbowl's website & message board. We support, encourage, and nurture ministry wives. Our contributors have experienced the fishbowl of ministry life firsthand, and we're here to come alongside you in all the joys and tears.

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Pastor's Wife Post (April 2013, Volume 1-#1) {Link-Up}

Here, finally, I have an idea for an unconfusing pw link-up! This site is a work in progress, to say the least! I'm just making this up as I go, people!

From now on, I'll post a monthly link-up (just like this) for pastors' wives to share their favorite posts of the month. And then, I'll do a monthly round-up of what all you'd like to share with others? Simple and do-able, methinks!
(Confused? That's to be expected when dealing with me! But please just bear with me and we'll get it figured out!)

I'm postdating this one to March 31st, but it's new today (April 5, 2013). So, any posts from April that you really poured your heart into or otherwise believe would be of interest to pastors' wives, link them up here!

Right now, it's fine to link up more than one! There's room for that, believe me!

Please remember to visit and comment on the blogs of your sister PW's, especially if you participate in the link-up! I know they'll appreciate connecting with you and would love to hear your encouragement.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

PW Blog Round-Up, Link-Up, & Speak-Up Vol 2-#2: Holy Week

Note: I've kept the link-up script from last week, if you'd like to post anything else from March. Also, please comment with any Lent, Passover, Holy Week, or Easter Meditations that you've written or that have spoken to you! This is posted a day early because of the holiday.

Be sure to read :

God Shows Up Right in the Middle of the Ugly (earlier this week)

Holy Week Meditation that really reached out and grabbed me this week, from Stefanie Brown:
"When they were finally tired of mocking him... When they were finally tired..." (read more...)

Repost From Last Year: 

Holy Week Meditations from Teri Lynne Underwood:

A God Who Catches Tears

A God Who Helps Us 

A God Who Understands Our Pain 

A God Who is Present Even in Silence

A God Who IS 

Please remember to visit and comment on the blogs of your sister PW's, especially if you participate in the link-up! I know they'll appreciate connecting with you and would love to hear your encouragement.

Monday, March 25, 2013

God Shows Up Right in the Middle of the Ugly

Like many, I've been watching the new Bible Series on the History Channel. I always find it helpful to watch certain shows that I know others will be talking about, plus it's always neat to see how an artist will fill in the lines between the lines we all know.

There are conversations you know must have happened (case in point, the argument regarding whether it was legal to try someone at night), yet they're not recorded. There's also the whole angle of how the people surrounding many of the events might have been affected (the scene with Samson's mom, for instance.)

My favorite part of this series, though, is the way God shows up right there in the middle of the ugly. Just as tax collectors are exacting their brutality, He calls out and says, "Mary!"

That may not have been the exact way that particular scene happened, but it illustrates a greater truth. God doesn't wait for the ugly to die down before He speaks. He often doesn't wait until things are calm and we're ready to deal with them. He speaks now. He acts now.

As a pastor's wife, I have in the past been involved in the planning and grunt work that goes into an event. During those times, I've often found myself pushing off any personal or spiritual growth I might receive from the event until later. I like to process after the fact, but many times God is wanting to do His work right then and there in the middle of it all.

I know that Holy Week can be a crazy time for pastors' families, and I encourage you to make the time to slow down, be still, and know God.

But... don't just know God in the slow times. Look for Him in the insane, the busy, the traumatic, and the absolutely crazy.


Friday, March 22, 2013

PW Blog Roundup & Link-Up, Plus Speak Out: Churches Losing our Youth

The re-launching continues! I don't know if I'll do this the same every week, but in addition to linking up your favorite post of the week, I'd love to hear comments back from you regarding young people leaving the church.

Jen Hatmaker posted an article recently about how a conference un-invited her to speak. While, I don't necessarily agree with every single thought she expressed, her post was well-written and just reached out and grabbed me this week for two reasons:

One: Why are we majoring in molehills when the mountains are slipping through our fingers? In her case, it was partly because of a joke about alcohol. But, that's not the only molehill around.

I understand the need for solid Bible scholarship, and I'm a bit of a Bible nerd myself. But, I see people debating and dissecting minutiae, tearing others down over it, and I'm broken for us that we're distracted from what really matters. (God, please forgive me for every single time I've done this myself.)

I feel like we're too busy keeping the house in order that we're not sitting at the feet of Jesus, nor following Him into our broken worlds, nor even engaging the brokenness right there in our own midst. We wound and then we bleed as our young people leave.

I fear that we turn so many people away when we turn on each other. (Ann Voskamp has a beautiful post about that, if you have time to click over.)

But, that's only part of why I'm broken. It goes much deeper and hurts right there in the middle of my heart.

I'm broken because it's MY son in danger of being lost, and I'm grieved to my core over it. Before, it was all just a sad statistic. But now that it's my statistic, I take it very personally.

I have some thoughts on that and the why's, but I'll leave that for another time. Let's just say that leaving a thriving church in a familiar culture and moving to a smaller church in need of revitalization has cost us in a way we did not foresee. For now, I'm praying and working on where to get him involved so that he's not lost altogether. I'd also like to hear back from you.

Sunday Women put a thoughtful post up this week on helping youth find a place to serve in church. (A real place, not just filling grunt work roles.) I think that's part of it. No doubt our churches need to help our teens identify their gifts and learn to minister in their sweet spots.

But what else?

Some more food for thought:

I went searching the web for an article I found several years ago and finally found it:

Almost Christian

In the process, I also found this:

Sticky Faith

As you have time this week or weekend, please read and ponder. Our link up this week is not limited to this topic, but if you blog about young people leaving the church or successes your church has had in slowing the flow, please let me know in the comments as well.

Now, in case I've confused you with too many words, please link up your favorite post(s) from this month. Since it's been a while and we're still a pretty small community, feel free to link up a few. And if you have something to say about young people leaving the church, please speak out in the comments --> (comments). 


Monday, March 18, 2013

Relaunching The Pastor's Wife Blog

(Today's post covers an upcoming weekly link-up, plus upcoming topics of discussion: sexual abuse in the church, a soon-to-be released pastors' wives novel, the unique challenges of small churches, and some advice you may have heard that I believe is unhelpful.)

When I began this site last year, I burned myself out a bit. I tried to write every day on this blog, plus keep my personal blog updated, plus spend time to adequately promote this site. It just got to be too much, and I needed to take a break and regroup.

There was a time when I could keep that up. But life has just been really weird for a long time now. Although we're rounding out the 4th year since we've moved across the country, I still feel like I've lost my bearings somewhat. We live 30 minutes from our church building and it's challenging for me to minister in that context, plus also be involved in the community where we live, which is completely separate. I also can't dismiss that whole bad salad incident as perhaps part of me is still damaged (i.e. my brain?) -- I've just not been the same since. 

So, I've broken down and regrouped, and have set more realistic goals. At this point, I'm hoping to post once a week. I'm still open to others posting, but I'm thinking this site needs to grow a bit first before there's interest. I also hope to have a weekly check-in where you guys can link up your favorite post of the week. I'm thinking I'll do that link up post on Fridays?

I do have several posts I've been working on in the queue that (Lord willing) you can hopefully look forward to in the coming weeks. The topic of sexual abuse in the church has been in the news lately. I'm working on a post with the help of an old friend, who's going to help me navigate the sensitive elements and also clarify facts for me, as needed.

There's a new pastors' wives novel coming out in late April, and I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of it. I'll be reviewing it and also posting some questions for discussion. Though not a pastor's wife herself, the author really did a good job of portraying many realities we may find ourselves in. Also, unlike too many others in media, she didn't violate us with unflattering stereotypes.

I also have an upcoming post or two specifically for pastors' wives in small churches. I grew up in a small church and probably will always be in small church ministry, as my pastor husband seems to be gifted with the patience it takes to slowly revitalize these situations with God's mercy and help. Many ministries try to address our struggles and they generally do a good job; but unless you're in them and are even experiencing them fresh, I think it's hard to fully relate sometimes.

And finally, a topic I'm working on and would love to hear your input: "Be Dead to It". Have you ever been given that advice, especially in regards to enduring criticism or personal attacks? I have, and I've tried to put it into practice. But, I'm realizing that it's another case of bad advice. I've got a rough draft with some practical reasons of why it's harmful, but I'm also searching out God's word and others' input for help. If you have any thoughts on the subject, please weigh in with your comments!


Monday, March 11, 2013

Bad Advice: "God Will Fix It," I Said

She's a nurse. More specifically, she's a single mom who worked hard to put herself through school. No doubt she sacrificed to do it, and I'm sure money was still pretty tight even after she graduated.

Still, she made a tough decision.

No pressure at all from us, but she came to believe that her second part-time job took her out of church way too often, so she gave her notice and announced it on facebook.

So far, so good. But then I opened my mouth (albeit via my fingers).

"What a hard decision," I affirmed,"but I fully believe God will honor that and replace your lost income."

As I walked away from the computer screen, I began questioning myself. This is nothing new -- I second-guess myself and my actions mercilessly. I've learned to endure it and move on, lest I never do or say anything, ever.

But this time it was different. "How do you know that God will replace those funds?" and "What will happen to her faith if you tell her that and then He doesn't?" kept echoing in my mind.

And so I listened to the questions, and thought about why I'd ever said or written a statement like that. Truth is, the best I could come up with is that I'd heard other people say that very same thing. Likely, they had a similar personal experience and God did reward their faithfulness. But does their experience mean that material reward for a sacrifice is guaranteed?

Certainly, we see in the Bible stories of God's faithfulness. He did prosper people monetarily. But if I really ponder, it's tough to come up with a time when someone had it easy because they made a tough choice. Often, those choices cost them, sometimes dearly; though there may have been a reward of some kind later down the road.

Yesterday my class was discussing a passage from Exodus 4 and 5. Moses had gathered the leaders of Israel and told them of God's plan to free them, showing them some of the signs God empowered them to give. In faith, the leaders sent Moses and Aaron off to Pharaoh with their full blessing. The reward? Their oppression was worsened and the Israelites called for God to judge Moses and Aaron because of it.

Yes, God did eventually secure their freedom, and they even plundered the Egyptians for material blessings; but I'm pretty sure that during the time of the plagues, they still had to make their bricks without straw.

"But Where is Your Faith?" you might ask me.

I would say that my faith is not in believing that if I do the right thing, God will always bless me in the way I see fit. I believe that true faith is doing what you know is right in spite of the consequences.

Yes, God rescued Daniel from the lion's den. But His rescue of Stephen looked very different. Stephen's reward for faithfulness was seeing Jesus standing in his honor as he was martyred.

Of all the stands for God people have made, the one that challenges me the most is that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego:
 “Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves to you. If you throw us into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from the furnace. He will save us from your power, O king. But even if God does not save us, we want you, O king, to know this: We will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18, NCV)
Yes, God CAN save me and/or bless me; but even if He does not, I will obey Him. That's the attitude I long to have for all of my decisions, big or small.

THAT is faith. THAT is counting the cost (Luke 14:28). We may still feel like backing out when our faith is put to the test, but fully appreciating ahead of time what is on the line can help us prepare for tough times that may come.

So, the next time I see the woman whom I encouraged with bad advice, I'll tell her that my words were well-intentioned, but wrong. May God help me to give her true encouragement for her journey instead.

Have you ever given someone advice and regretted it later? 


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