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.

stay in touch:

add our pastor's wife blog to your reader reader | receive updates from our pastors wives blogroll via email via email | pastors wives connect on twitter @pwconnect & PW List | connect with other pastors' wives on facebook @pwconnect |  @pwconnect | Follow Me on Pinterest PW Pins

Showing posts with label pastors wives. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pastors wives. Show all posts

22 May

Is All This Struggle Worth it?

She locked the church door and jiggled the knob. Her car was the only one left in the parking lot, and Taneka was taking the speaker to the airport. Tired fingers dropped the key into her new summer purse. Memories of the tender hugs that accompanied all the goodbyes warmed her heart as she walked to her blue Toyota hybrid.

Once in the gray cloth seat, Beth paused. “Lord, it all seemed to go well. Thank you for keeping everything on track in spite of that major disruption.” She dropped her hands from the wheel to her lap.

“Now I need you to help me figure out what’s going on with Ruth. Her outburst was totally out of character. Her words stung, and I’m sure you noticed the shock on the faces of those who heard her.”
She realized her response in the moment to address the older woman’s concerns was more second nature than felt kindness. The confrontation itself was easier to handle than all the little upsets that occurred throughout the planning and preparation. A deep breath poured from her lungs as she pulled the lanyard out of her jacket pocket. Keys slid into ignitions so easily. Her years of ministry played across her mind.

“I have to tell you, Lord. As much as I appreciate being able to serve you and the women you send my way, I’m feeling a bit tired. I know the message this weekend was sound and what we all need to hear, but I’m not sure what I got out of this gathering. Is my effort worth so much struggle?”

She put her head back and relaxed, as if into the arms of her Savior. “But you know me, Jesus. When you and I are making our way through these stretching seasons, I feel closer to you than I can express.” Her eyes narrowed. “Hmm, could that be one of the reasons for them?”

A smile of knowing relief captured her countenance as she reached over and started the engine. “You’re so sweet, Lord. Thank You for reminding me I’m forever safe in your loving and powerful grasp.”

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of my hand (John 10:27-18 NASB).

When was the last time you felt worn out and overdone?

I’d love to hear how God met your need once you turned to Him.

About the Author:
Sandra Allen Lovelace is a continuing missionary, a pastor’s wife emeritus, and a homeschool pioneer. She’s an award-winning speaker and author, and a faithful encourager. Sandra’s a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and an Agented Author at Credo Communications. Her current manuscript addresses the topic of Wallflower Women. She enjoys hiking with a camera in her hand, best done on an international adventure. Sandra and her husband Curt are transitioning to South Carolina.

Get to know Sandra at her website, http://sandraallenlovelace.com/

You can also connect with Sandra on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

31 October

Pastor's Wife Devotional Launching November 28th

I'm so excited!!! My long-time friend and fellow pastor's wife, Leigh Powers, joined our pastor's wife blog in the summer of 2016 -- writing articles, assisting with social media, and also arranging for other guest bloggers to encourage pastors' wives around the globe.

Now, Leigh is launching a devotional book for pastors' wives. Truthfully, I find many devotional books -- especially those aimed at women -- to be trite and shallow, or too syrupy for me to stand for very long. But this one stands apart.

Leigh is a gifted and insightful writer, holding an M.Div.Bl from Southwestern Seminary; and more importantly, a love for her fellow pastor's wife.

Each devotional practically identifies with the pain/emotions we're feeling, ends with encouragement and insight from God's word, followed by prayer and action steps that lead to healing.

Read an excerpt online at Medium. This is the very first devotional in the book--the one that kicks off the 40-day journey from lamenting the pain to loving the church again.

Here's a sample:

I see the hope in my husband’s eyes slowly dying. It dims a little with every idea shot down, every deacon who puts a finger in his face before he gets up to preach ...

We live in a messy, sin-stained world. Those who are meant to be God’s people don’t always live like it. As ministers and church leaders, being on the front lines of the battle means we get hit by the shrapnel. It hurts, and sometimes anger is our gut-level response to the pain. Anger at ourselves. Anger at our churches. Anger at God, because it’s his fault we’re here in the first place.

When you are angry at God, the worst thing you can do is hide it....

Read the rest at:



03 May

Be Who You Are

When I was growing up in the South, there was a stereotype for “pastor’s wife.” She was quiet, long-suffering, always serving but never in charge, always appropriately (and maybe slightly over) dressed, smiling, and just slightly holier than everyone else. My own pastor’s wife once told me she couldn’t tell some parents at our church about their children’s misbehavior because she was the pastor’s wife.

I used to pray, “Oh Lord, I will be and do anything you want, but please don’t make me a pastor’s wife. I can’t live like that!” So of course, I became a pastor’s wife! It’s one of those great ironies of the Christian life, isn’t it?

As I’ve said before, we walked into a first ministerial position with other wives who were diverse and fun. The church body expected us to be involved but in our own ways and in line with our different personalities. The pressures were minimal, except for those I put on myself.

We hadn’t been at this church for long when I went to a certain conference where they offered one class especially for new ministers’ wives. Of course, I signed up. I was so uncomfortable for the entire session! The instructor’s list of “should”s and “shouldn’t”s sucked me back into that mindset from my childhood, where the pastor’s wife could never go to the grocery store in sweatpants or skip a meeting at church. I sat there while my identity in Christ wrestled internally with archaic expectations of tradition. I was too young and inexperienced to say anything, but I escaped as quickly as possible.

I wish I had humbly but firmly spoken up that day, but even more, I wish I could lead a session like that now. Here’s what I would say:

1.      Be authentic. You are a work-in-progress, with areas where God has already given you victory and areas where you’re weak. Don’t celebrate your weaknesses, but don’t hide them either.
2.      Represent well. Whether you like it or not, you represent your husband and your church to the public. Before you walk out the door, take a moment to evaluate what others see. Your local culture will determine what’s acceptable.
3.      Take care of yourself. Spend time in the Word and foster a healthy lifestyle. Your current circumstances will determine what “healthy” means for you, and that’s okay!
4.      Prioritize. Take a look at the different elements of your life. Then prayerfully, intentionally choose where you will invest your energy. Knowing you’re following God’s will gives you confidence to continue down the path He has for you.

We’re not all destined to be demure, soft-spoken paradigms of modesty and humility. We are, however, all being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), growing in the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), and learning how to navigate the world He’s given us. God knew who you were and who you would become before He called you to this role. He wants you—the real you, not the fake, idealized model-pastor’s-wife version of you—to flourish in this calling! So be who you are.

About the author:

Carole Sparks is passionate about God’s Word—about how it can change our everyday lives! After years of globetrotting, she now lives, learns, and loves (plus a good bit of writing) in the hills of East Tennessee. Connect with Carole through her website, http://carolesparks.com or her blog, http://notaboutme1151.wordpress.com.

You can also find Carole on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

11 April

Above All Else, Guard His Heart

I’ve heard it said a husband’s role is to guard the home entrusted to him while a wife’s role is to guard the hearts within that home. While responsibilities and roles in marriage vary widely, I like this image of husband and wife standing at the threshold of their home, arms locked, with him looking outward and her looking inward. Both are fiercely protective of the family God has given them, but they approach it in different ways.

King Solomon recognized the importance of protecting our hearts. He urged, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). While we can’t protect another person’s heart in the same way we protect our own, there are things we can do to make it easier for our husbands to guard their hearts.

The hardest part of a [ministry] career, Mr. Taylor found, is to maintain regular, prayerful Bible study. “Satan will always find you something to do,” he would say, “when you ought to be occupied about that, if it is only arranging a window blind.”[1]

It’s so easy to get distracted. One of the best ways to guard his heart is to make sure he has the mental and emotional—even the physical—space to spend time with the Father. Our husbands need to be “fed” by the Word of God just like everyone else, but it’s easy for vocational ministers to replace their personal quiet times with sermon preparation or other study. It’s also easy for us to think those precious few minutes he spends at home are ours to dictate. After all, curtains need hung, children need disciplined, grass needs mowed, and if he sat down for a cup of coffee with you…well, what could be more important than that?

Ladies, let me just say it: Nothing is more important to your marriage or your ministry than your husband’s intimacy with God.

Prioritize your husband’s personal time with God to see a stronger minister and a better #marriage. #pastorswives @Carole_Sparks (click to tweet)

As you ask God how to prioritize your husband’s quiet time without interfering in his relationship with God (because we don’t want to nag or play the Holy Spirit in their lives), consider a couple of broad applications.

1.      Clear the way for him to grow as God leads him.
For years, I got up first and started the coffee pot at our house. That made it easier for my husband to get up for his quiet time. (These days, it’s the opposite!) Anticipate the obstacles he’ll face tomorrow and do what you can to eliminate them.
2.      Back out of the way of his personal growth.
Be careful your expectations don’t occupy every moment he spends at home. For example, some things on your “honey do” list have been there for months. An extra hour in the morning on his day off isn’t going to make a difference.

If I prioritize my husband’s time alone with God, he will find it easier to continuing growing into the man God has created him to be!

Question for reflection: How can you clear the way or back out of the way so your husband has a greater opportunity for intimacy with God?

About the author:

Carole Sparks is passionate about God’s Word—about how it can change our everyday lives! After years of globetrotting, she now lives, learns, and loves (plus a good bit of writing) in the hills of East Tennessee. Connect with Carole through her website, http://carolesparks.com or her blog, http://notaboutme1151.wordpress.com.

You can also find Carole on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

[1] Dr. & Mrs. Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret. Hendrickson: Peabody, Massachusetts. 2008 (pg. 201). The bracketed text was originally “missionary,” but the thought applies to all vocational ministers.

28 March

A Prayer for Those in Ministry Transitions

We moved in February to a new place of service, leaving our small West Texas town for a bustling Houston suburb. We still have boxes to unpack and names to learn, but it's starting to feel like home.

I know I'm not the only one in the midst of a transition. Some of you are starting to feel the holy discontent that signals God may have something different in store. Some are hurting and looking for an exit plan. Others love where you serve but can't escape the quiet certainty that it's time to move on. And you may be at different places in your transition journey. Like us, maybe you are dealing with unpacking boxes and finding your way around your new home. Maybe you're in the midst of packing and garage sales. Or maybe you're still in the middle of sending out resumes and talking with search committees, trying not to be discouraged by one more no.

Wherever you are in your transition process, I want to pray a prayer of blessing over you:

For those who are hurting from a painful season of ministry, may God be the great healer of your hearts. He stores your tears in his bottle; he records them in his book. Your sorrow will not be wasted. May God turn your mourning into dancing; your weeping into shouts of joy. May he bring to you to a place of healing and freedom where you can serve him in joy.

For those who are grieving the loss of friends and family, of favorite hangouts and familiar roads, may God establish you in a new family of faith. Change always brings its own sense of loss--the way the sunlight slanted through your window in the morning; the way your favorite hymn sounded with familiar voices. May God comfort you in your sorrow and surround you with heart-friends. May God open your eyes to the blessings around you so you can greet the future with open hands.

For those on the road, living out of suitcases and boxes, one foot in the old and one in the new, may God bless you with laughter today. May he be real to you in the present moment--not a memory and not an item at the bottom of your to-do list. May he keep you safe as you travel and birth in your heart a vision for what lies ahead.

For those joyfully serving and yet sensing it is time to move on, may God bless you with good goodbyes and open doors. May every moment count. As you have shepherded people through your season with them, may you continue to shepherd them well as this season draws to a close. May you end well, faithfully loving both your people and your God. May God give you anticipation and joy for what lies ahead.

For all living in the in-between and the unknown, may God help you face the future without fear. May his peace ride sentry duty around your heart, assuring you God is already preparing you and your family for what is to come. May God set before you open doors; may he give you clarity and confidence in each decision you face. For God is not waiting around the next bend; he is with you guiding every step. May you rest beneath the shelter of his wings.

How has God been with you in times of transition and change?

About the author:
Leigh Powers is a pastor's wife, Bible study and devotional author, freelance editor, and mother of three from Houston, Texas. She is passionate about helping women find hope and healing by meeting God in his word. You can connect with Leigh on FacebookTwitter, or follow her at her blog My Life. His Story (www.leighpowers.com).

21 March

When the Offense Isn't Against You.

One of the challenges ministry wives face is that when things are going badly for our husbands at church, often we can’t directly respond. We see the toll it takes when he drags in after another difficult board meeting; we encourage him when he gets blindsided by another petty critic. And as Karl Vaters recently wrote for Christianity today, those snapshots our husband bring home can be harder on us than on them. Where our husbands can be proactive in handling conflict, we can only react. And while they get to walk through the process of reconciliation, we only hear about it secondhand. How can we respond when the offense is against our husbands, not ourselves?

  • Acknowledge your own hurt. It may not be your job on the line, but challenges to your husband’s leadership still feel personal. Sometimes we try to dismiss secondary pain, saying things like, “It wasn’t about me, so I should just let it go.” But stuffing feelings into a closet doesn’t make them go away. In times of church conflict, we need to identify what  we feel and why we feel it. “I feel threatened and insecure because I’m afraid my husband is going to lose his job.” “I feel angry because it upsets me to see my husband hurt unfairly.” “I feel betrayed that people can be nice to my face, then gossip and complain about my husband behind his back." Acknowledging our hurts brings them into the light so we can examine them, work through them, and heal.
  • Walk through the process of forgiveness. We may not get the chance to be on the forefront of reconciliation, but we can still walk through our own process of forgiveness. Forgiveness is an essential tool for ministry longevity. I’ve written more about the process of forgiveness at my blog, but the heart of forgiveness is accepting Christ’s payment as sufficient for the offenses committed against us and trusting him to heal our hurts. We don’t have to demand payment or retribution when Christ has already paid it all.
  • Choose blessing over bitterness. One of the great dangers ministry wives face is the temptation to give in to bitterness and cynicism. Satan wants us bitter—focusing only on the bad and viewing the church through skeptical, untrusting eyes. But there’s a way of escape: blessing is the antidote to bitterness. As God brings healing to our souls, we can choose to be channels of blessing. We follow Christ’s example in offering grace and mercy—even to those who have hurt us, wounded us, and betrayed us. We keep loving--not putting ourselves in jeopardy, but offering kindness and choosing to do good. Bitterness closes us off. Blessing opens us up so we can continue to experience God’s mercy and grace as we pass them on to others.
When the offense isn't against us, we don't always get to personally experience the reconciliation process. But we can still look to Christ for healing, grace, and the courage to keep loving well. Be blessed.

About the author:
Leigh Powers is a pastor's wife, Bible study and devotional author, freelance editor, and mother of three from small-town West Texas. She is passionate about helping women find hope and healing by meeting God in his word. You can connect with Leigh on Facebook or Twitter, or follow her at her blog: My Life. His Story (www.leighpowers.com).

17 January

Winter is but a Season

By Nan Jones

Hope lives in the scraggly branches reaching toward the winter blue sky.

Do you see it? Can you sense it? Branches bare. Raw. Vulnerable. Surrounded by a barren earth.
Skeletons of life waiting. Knowing—knowing that come spring, life will begin anew, because winter is but for a season.

Yes, hope lives in the scraggly branches reaching toward the winter blue sky.

Hope lives inside of me, too. And you—those who have allowed the Spirit of God to reign in their hearts.

The hope of God is a life-source, flowing strong through our veins. It may not be seen, but it's there. Just like the life-source of sap flowing through the winter branches carrying the promise of spring, so the hope of God resides within His children during winter seasons of the soul.

And with His hope comes a new tomorrow. With His hope comes life eternal. Abundant life. Life filled with peace and provision. With God's hope comes security that the world has not known.

The hope of God is known to those who dwell richly in His Presence and, with intention, take Him at His Word.

"Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory [inner self] rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely in hope." ~ Psalm 16:9

The winter branches don't question the trunk to which they are secured. They merely hold fast during the harsh winds of winter, trusting their life-source to sustain them until the season has passed. The branches rest with fingertips towards the sun, while roots grow deep, all the while waiting for the new life of spring.

Hope lives in the scraggly branches reaching toward the winter blue sky.

Hope lives inside of me, too.

About the Author:

Nan Jones is an author/speaker who uses the words of her heart to assist fellow Christians in discovering the Presence of God in their darkest hour. She has been published in several anthologies as well as the online inspirational sites Christian Devotions, and Inspire a Fire where she is a monthly contributor. She is also a monthly contributor to PW Connections, a blog and forum to encourage pastors' wives. Nan has had the honor of being featured as a guest blogger on several sites. She is thrilled to announce her debut book, The Perils of a Pastor's Wife released June 30, 2015 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. This memoir was a 2016 Selah finalist. When Nan isn't writing, she enjoys leading prayer retreats, bible studies or sharing God’s love as keynote speaker for special events. She is becoming known by her brand: "Even so, I walk in the Presence of the Lord" as she teaches her audience to go beyond the veil to find God's Presence. You may visit Nan at her website: www.NanJones.com. Nan has also created a facebook community page, Seeing Beyond The Veil, to provide a place for folks to go and get away from the chaos for a few moments and focus on Jesus through scripture, worship, testimony, and inspirational quotes. For personal communication you may email Nan at nan@nanjones.com

The Perils of a Pastor's Wife is available on AmazonBarnes and Noble, and LPC Bookstore

20 December

Embracing the Gift of PW Friendships

“My best friend is a pastor’s wife so I know exactly how you feel,” Gina said to me one Sunday morning before church. She continued on in conversation about what her friend had shared with her but my mind stayed locked on her first sentence, and while I smiled and nodded anger was growing inside me. I spent the rest of the service distracted by her words.

When I shared our interaction with my husband, he assured me she was only trying to find common ground on which to converse. I’ve replayed the moment in my mind and still feel the same as I did then.

To say she knows what it’s like to be a PW because her BFF is one is like saying I know what the ocean is like because I’ve seen it on TV. But until I smell the sea air, taste the saltwater on my lips, feel the way the sand changes as I step from hot and dry to wet and sloppy, step on a crab or another unseen creature beneath the surface, get knocked over by a wave I’d under estimated, experience the tide rushing in and out, or feel the breeze through my hair there is no way for me to know what it’s like. Not. At. All.

No matter how many times Gina’s friend has shared with her what it’s like to be married to a pastor, Gina will never know the reality of it because she hasn’t experienced it herself. Only another PW knows how it really is. That's why it’s important to find friendship in like-minded women. We need each other. We struggle with things that few others do. We can laugh about things that many people in our churches wouldn’t understand. We can shoulder one another when things get ugly.

In this season of thankfulness and gift-giving let’s remember to be thankful for the gift we have of each other. Some of my closest friends are PWs, many of whom I’ve not met face to face. Online communities can be safe havens for us, such as the message boards at PastorsWives.com In the fishbowl we find acceptance without pressure, love without judgment, and fellowship without fellows. What we go through on a weekly basis can be shared with women who have experienced the same thing. And that is the greatest gift of all.

If you are a pastor’s wife I encourage you to find friendship in another pastor’s wife. Whether in your community or out, in your denomination or across line, we need the support we can get from each other. I can (and do) share things with my closest friends and they offer the words I want to hear, but when I share with another PW words aren’t needed. A hand on my shoulder or a hug can give more encouragement than words because it means she’s been there. If you prefer to share in a more intimate setting then I encourage you to find an online group you can participate in. There are many, from Facebook groups to message boards. I was an active member of such a group for over a decade until social media changed the way we shared with one another. Over the years I’ve been blessed to be able to meet some of these ladies as I’ve traveled the country. Their hugs have been some of the sweetest I’ve known, alongside the ones I receive from the ladies in my denomination during our yearly retreats and other ministry meetings.

Do not take these friendships for granted.
For me, they are one of life’s greatest gifts.

Merry Christmas my sweet sisters. 

About the Author:

Suzanne Schaffer has been in full-time ministry with her husband Wayne since 1992, pastoring in Pennsylvania and Illinois. She has two grown children and spends most of her days either writing or reading with a cup of tea close by. She enjoys attending auctions and sometimes brings home more stuff than she knows what to do with. She believes life is too short for mediocre food and insists on having good chocolate in the house at all times. You can connect with Suzanne at her blog, www.notenoughchocolate.blogspot.com

25 October

Stay the Course

by Nan Jones

"For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown for His name in ministering to [the needs of] the saints (God’s people), as you do. And we desire for each one of you to show the same diligence [all the way through] so as to realize and enjoy the full assurance of hope until the end,  so that you will not be [spiritually] sluggish, but [will instead be] imitators of those who through faith [lean on God with absolute trust and confidence in Him and in His power] and by patient endurance [even when suffering] are [now] inheriting the promises." ~ Hebrews 6:10-12, AMP

I was done. Finished. There was no way I was going to walk back into that church again and face those … those people. Not after that business meeting. They were cruel and heartless and had no respect for my man—their pastor.

I was done.

I fumed and fussed, whined and complained to nobody but the mirror. That was my safe place—behind closed doors in the bathroom. I could fuss at that mirror all day long, and although I didn't get any sympathy, I didn't get any backtalk either. I could take off my happy mask and just be me—a woman who loved the Lord, wanted to lead others to His love, wanted to undergird my husband, and tried really hard to do and be the best pastor's wife I could be.

But sometimes I got hurt.

Many times I felt anger and betrayal.

And sometimes I just needed to stomp my feet and shout ugliness at that mirror!

But then God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy would come to me and whisper to my wounded heart. He would tell me to come and reason together with Him. He reminded me who I am to Him—His daughter, His servant, His beloved.

And then He reminded me to forgive those people for they knew not what they were doing.

Um … excuse me Lord? They know perfectly well what they are doing!

No, Nan, not really. You are not battling with flesh and blood, but with principalities of darkness. The people wanting to halt My work through the man of God I've sent them do not have the spiritual maturity to see the spiritual battle. You're right, some don't care and I'll take care of them, but most don't understand what they are doing. You must forgive them and stay the course.

But what if I don't want to?

Then you will lose the battle and Satan will gain ground in this church.

I had a lot of soul searching to do. Dying to self is no fun, is it? The need to thrust out our chest and boast that we are right and they are wrong is horrid. Us versus them. Control people versus  Holy Spirit people. Oy!

But all the people are God's people—the flock He has chosen for you and your husband to shepherd.

Even the ones who are ornery and self-righteous. Yes, even those.

He loves them too.

Go in God's strength. His eyes roam to and fro above the earth searching for those who are committed to Him who need to be encouraged. How beautiful is that?

Stay the course. If God be for you, and He is, then who can dare to be against you?

About the Author:

Nan Jones is an author/speaker who uses the words of her heart to assist fellow Christians in discovering the Presence of God in their darkest hour. She has been published in several anthologies as well as the online inspirational sites Christian Devotions, and Inspire a Fire where she is a monthly contributor. She is also a monthly contributor to PW Connections, a blog and forum to encourage pastors' wives. Nan has had the honor of being featured as a guest blogger on several sites. She is thrilled to announce her debut book, The Perils of a Pastor's Wife released June 30, 2015 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. This memoir was a 2016 Selah finalist. When Nan isn't writing, she enjoys leading prayer retreats, bible studies or sharing God’s love as keynote speaker for special events. She is becoming known by her brand: "Even so, I walk in the Presence of the Lord" as she teaches her audience to go beyond the veil to find God's Presence. You may visit Nan at her website: www.NanJones.com. Nan has also created a facebook community page, Seeing Beyond The Veil, to provide a place for folks to go and get away from the chaos for a few moments and focus on Jesus through scripture, worship, testimony, and inspirational quotes. For personal communication you may email Nan at nan@nanjones.com

The Perils of a Pastor's Wife is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and LPC Bookstore

18 October

Recurring Dreams

My daughter and I were recently discussing recurring dreams that mess with our sleep. She’s had a dream three times and is relieved to wake up and realize it isn’t true.  As we talked about them I understood the three dreams I live while asleep reveal something deeper than I imagined.

The first dream involves driving in reverse. I hate reverse. My husband likes to back up across the church parking lot just to play, but it feels like I’m on a roller coaster. I tend to avoid anything that moves without my controlling it, so driving backwards is not my idea of a fun time. In my dream I’m driving in reverse and the car is out of control, spinning all over the place. No matter what I do I can’t fix it. I haven’t had this dream in a few years, and looking back I can see that parts of my life were out of my control. Things have since fallen into place and my dreams no longer involve reverse.

The second dream is one I haven’t had in almost a decade. In this dream I’ve got something in my mouth and can’t get it out. It’s the texture of the wax lips I used to chew on as a child, and it’s in big lumps and tiny slivers. No matter how much I try to empty my mouth of it, there is still more. This dream is an easy one to unwrap. It means I have something to say and can’t get the words out. I know the reason I don’t have this one anymore is because I’ve found my voice and the confidence to say what needs to be spoken. Fear of being ridiculed has vanished each time I speak where I would have once cowered.

The final dream is one I still have on occasion. I arrive at church to a full parking lot and have to park on the grass or the street. Once inside I find there is nowhere for me to sit. Every seat is full. As the pastor’s wife I have given myself an unassigned assigned seat: the first row second seat in from the left. It’s my spot. In my dream I’ve had to stand in the back or sit on stage with the choir (Choir? We don’t have a choir!) The more I thought about this dream, I realized it’s about my insecurity of not knowing my place or not knowing where I fit in as the pastor’s wife. Am I just another member of the congregation or am I a leader?

How many of us have felt this way? I am not someone who likes to be fussed over or have all eyes on me. Early in our adult ministry I entered church one morning with a new haircut. There was a collective gasp from the congregation and whispers of, “Suzanne got her hair cut.” It was enough to make me want to turn around and go home. I’ve faked my way through many a Sunday morning. But God has bigger plans and ideas, and sometimes they involve being uncomfortable. I’ve learned He is trustworthy and faithful. Even when I am apprehensive He will take care of me.

We can always trust Him with every part of our lives. Even when all eyes are on us.

About the Author:

Suzanne Schaffer has been in full-time ministry with her husband Wayne since 1992, pastoring in Pennsylvania and Illinois. She has two grown children and spends most of her days either writing or reading with a cup of tea close by. She enjoys attending auctions and sometimes brings home more stuff than she knows what to do with. She believes life is too short for mediocre food and insists on having good chocolate in the house at all times. You can connect with Suzanne at her blog, www.notenoughchocolate.blogspot.com

23 August

Review & Discuss -- Pastors' Wives: A Novel

(Image from Amazon.com)
I had the privilege of receiving an advance review copy of Pastors' Wives: A Novel, by Lisa Takeuchi Cullen last spring. Generally, a book with such a title would make me cringe, as I even now grimace when I think of the stereotypical way pastors' wives are sometimes portrayed in popular culture. However, remembering the sensitive way Cullen covered the pastor's wife story in Time magazine long ago, I felt pretty safe opening the pages and diving in.

I wasn't disappointed!

Cullen hooked me right away with a first person narrative from Ruthie, the main character -- very warm and inviting, like I was sitting on the couch with her, drinking my cup of hot tea and listening intently to her misadventures into pastor's wife-dom. I particularly loved how Ruthie would relate to the audience when describing certain life choices that in retrospect were perhaps a bit puzzling! There are some mild language choices that some might find objectionable, but I found that it was occasional and only served to make Ruthie's character more believable.

The other two pastors' wives, we hear of in the third person. Initially, I thought the narrative change was a mistake that would be corrected in the final copy, but then I realized it was a brilliant way to tell the story. I found myself identifying just a bit with each of them -- whether it was the seasoned wife with the well-tuned radar, or the young wife trying to find her niche, I could see myself in either situation.

I also appreciated that the characters were complex and believable, with human strengths and failings -- not unlike many Biblical characters we've known all our lives. Cullen also has an incredibly visual writing style. As the mega-church pastor's wife was going about her day, I could see the doors opening and the events happening as they were being described.

Though I thought it was generally a captivating book, I think Cullen missed a detail here or there. And I say this with grace, because I couldn't even begin to write a novel like this. So, the last thing I want to do is pick apart something that is well done.

But if I were talented enough to write a novel such as this (and knowing what I know about denominations), I probably would have made the mega church pastor and pastor's wife originate from a denomination that is ruled more from the congregational bottoms-up model (i.e. Baptist) because of the parsonage condition she describes. I've dabbled in other denominations, and some are just known for taking better care of their pastors in small churches than others. A minor detail, though.

The other thing I felt she may have missed was the whole "God calling the pastors in a dream" as it was described. I mean, yes, at times that happens and we find such scenarios in the Bible, itself. But... it seemed more mystical and new agey, in my opinion. I just know from the dude, especially, and also hearing from other pastors, too -- I've never heard a scenario like she described. My husband describes his calling like Jeremiah, as a "fire in his bones" -- it was most evident when he was sitting in church white-knuckled, knowing full well (and resisting) what God was calling him to do.

And Finally...
Cullen describes how the novel came about on her website. However, I get the feeling that the impetus also came a bit from her imagining how she might react if her husband were ever called into ministry. But really, you'd never know from Ruthie's character that Cullen isn't a pastor's wife -- she really nailed the gamut of emotions Ruthie might have felt, in my opinion, and really nailed the book in general.

So what about you? Have you read Pastors' Wives yet? If so, what did you think? Even if you're not in a mega-church (most of us aren't), which pastor's wife do you identify with the most? You can comment here --->(comments) and/or link to your review in the linky list below.

I'd love to hear back from you. If you don't plan to read the book, you could answer one of the questions below instead:

How was your husband "called" into ministry?

What about you and your callings? How did you come to know what they were?

Do you have any callings in your life that felt supernatural in how they came about?


Update! Feel free to link to your reviews here:

26 July

Urgent News About Cedarly Pastor's Retreat Center

The Cedarly Pastor's Retreat Center is in danger of closing its doors for good. Please let me explain why this breaks my heart and how you can help keep it from happening through prayer, spreading the word, and as God leads:

Dwayne & Rita Hanon broke new ministry ground 18 years ago when they opened up the Cedarly Pastor's Retreat Center in Delafield, Wisconsin. It was a nudging from God to take care of His servants. They offered week-long, life-changing, self-directed retreats free of charge to full time pastors and their wives -- six couples at a time on a year-round basis. No timeshare presentation nor multi-level marketing plan. Just pure, authentic ministry.

In 2001, the Hanon's left the miraculous work being accomplished year-round at Cedarly into capable hands, and began anew -- Broomtree Ministries. Through Broomtree, they offer fewer retreats, but in more varied locations. (Many thanks to the generosity of Christian property owners, such as The Shack Country Inn near White Cloud, Michigan for providing this space!)

My husband and I were blessed to visit Cedarly in 1998, when they were still fairly new. God really showed up for us that week to renew us personally and breathe new life into our ministry. They assigned a volunteer from their home church to each minister or couple attending who prayed for us and sent a personal note of encouragement to greet us when we arrived. We returned again about ten years later, this time to the ministry of Broomtree, where my husband was amazed to discover that I needed the retreat more than he did!

There were times of sharing over the dinner table, and times of quiet where we could just pray and seek God, uninterrupted. After both visits, we left renewed, and grateful to God for providing such a place and such people with a heart to minister to pastor couples.

Earlier this spring, Rita Hanon submitted a guest post, Observations of the American Pastor Couple

Cedarly, the original pastor's retreat center they founded, was still in operation until only recently. Now it has gone up for sale. It is a breathtakingly beautiful place, but will be torn down if the Hanon's are not able to raise the funds necessary to purchase it.

The good news? They're about two-thirds of the way there. This is phenomenal how much has been raised in such a short period of time! The bad news? Time is running short to raise the remaining funds. They have until the end of July.

So what does this have to do with pastors' families who may be cash-strapped financially? Trust me, I feel your pain and am praying hard, asking God what we can do ourselves. But I can do this much, and you can, too:

Please, spread the word! And.... pray -- that is something we can all join together for! Pray the rest of this money in! Also...

I've wondered... how many couples have benefited from the ministry of Cedarly and/or Broomtree these last 18 years? What if each couple were able to return a thank you gift of $50? Even $10 if times are really tough (5 people giving $10 because that's all they can spare  = one person giving $50). What if each church who is reaping the reward of having a renewed and revived pastor, were to give a matching gift? Or even $500, if their budget would allow?

How close would the Hanon's then be to raising the last amount needed? 

Regardless of whether you can help financially, again, please pray. This ministry has meant the world to us and countless others. I'm sure the ministry of Broomtree will continue, regardless of what happens. But what a blessing it would be to have the property at Cedarly available again for ministry!

If you have been personally blessed by the ministry of Cedarly and/or Broomtree (or would like to, now that you know about them), we'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Let others know what a precious ministry this has been!

Please visit the Broomtree Ministries website to learn more and/or help:  http://www.broomtreeministries.org/


15 April

Observations of the American Pastor Couple -- (Guest Post by Rita Hanon)

We have been watching all of you.  And we are encouraged. 

A lot of polls and articles in Christian magazines report that the pastor in the USA is overworked, over tired, and on the brink of burn out.  These facts may all be true of some or even many, but often these articles paint a picture of the pastor couple that is full of negatives.  We see a very different picture that is full of positives and promise.   

Perhaps we just see a different kind of pastor in the retreat setting.  I don’t think there is a way to “poll” the answer to that statement.  We can say this; the couples who come are from over 93 denominations, 35 states, and 10 countries.  They are all ages and have shepherded a congregation from 1 month to 50 years. 

The variety is huge – the commonality is simple. Because they are called to serve, by a God who knew full well what He was doing when He called them, and how they could not do any of it without Him; there is a vast difference between the pastor who is shepherding the flock and the person who is (or thinks he is) in command.  So that makes it simple – a pastor knows he needs time away – a person who feels he is in control has no need to get away to talk to God. 

So the following is what we observe:

  • Pastors know that they're second in command – it is God’s church – no one else’s
  • Pastors are more polite than any other “people group” we have every dealt with
  • Pastors are more grateful and express that gratitude honestly and humbly
  • Pastors have a drive to learn, read, excel, and grow that is amazing
  • Pastors are often very critical and aware of their own shortcomings 
  • Pastors feel torn between serving the church and their family  
  • Pastors often expect their spouses to understand more than those spouses can
  • Pastors receive more direct, confrontational criticism from those they are trying to serve, knowing full well that these critics cannot be "fired" and simply replaced by "hiring" another parishioner
  • Pastors' wives are resourceful, patient, and creative
  • Pastors' wives often feel that they do not fit the “mold” of Pastor’s Wife
  • Pastors' wives are often lonely and long for close women friends
  • Pastors' wives are protective of their husbands and children
  • The very best thing you can give a pastor’s wife is time alone with her husband
  • Both pastor and spouse are sleep deprived
  • Each longs to laugh, be prayed for, sleep, be cared for, and hear from God

When the pastor couple *catches up on their sleep* and begins to hear God’s still small voice for their own lives, then we see amazing changes: 
  • Couples can see each other through God’s eyes instead of their own veil of tribulations.  
  • Being separated from the church offers an opportunity for a distant, honest viewpoint that is more ready for solutions from God and not men
  • Each person can begin to grasp how much God loves them; just as they are – just where they are – just who they are
  • The place of Holy space gives grace to every face

One of the days during our retreats we give each couple some questions to talk about with each other: 
1.  What do you believe God has uniquely gifted you to do?
2. Tell me, [in the last 6 months] about what activities that you have been engaged in have stoked your passion?
3.  Are you in a place where you can do more of what stokes your passion?
4.  If you are not, what do you need to do to change this?

One pastor wrote that when they got these questions, his wife easily shared the answers to these questions while he felt numb and unable to even identify what he believed God had gifted him to do.  Through the rest of the retreat and on into the next 6 months this pastor wrestled with this dilemma.  They talked and prayed and finally received an answer that not only let him stay in his senior pastor role in his church, but also find a way to have others take over so much of the routine things that bogged him down, giving him the freedom to do what God has equipped him to do. 

Another pastor’s wife called our retreats, “A way to push God’s reset button”.  She suggested that you run to your Bible and read Psalm 139 to grasp how much God really does love you. 

So we see clergy a little different from the polls.  We see people trying to change the “bad stuff” in their lives and focus in on the wonder and high privilege of serving the God who loves them, by taking time to ask Him for His help.   Sometimes we get to see Him answer their prayers -- the look on their faces when they get those answers is priceless.   We also are privileged to hear about how God called each one into ministry.  Each couple unique – each call unique.  It gives us a view of the pastorate in America that is encouraging, hopeful and gives reason to pray for all of the churches and their shepherd-leaders. 

If you are a pastor – thank you. 
If you are a pastor’s spouse – thank you.
If you are in a congregation – thank you for praying for your pastor and spouse.  

Some couples have only attended a retreat once; others come back for a second or third go-round.  Each retreat is 5 days so we really get to know you. They are free of charge, so there is no excuse for you to delay taking the time away with Jesus.  


Dwayne and Rita Hanon founded the Cedarly Pastor's Retreat Center, and later Broomtree Ministries, answering God's call to provide pastoral couples a place to recharge and reconnect with God and each other. My husband and I have had the pleasure of attending both retreats under their leadership. I'll never forget hearing Dwayne speak to our congregation, reminding us that God commands us to rest, and for good reason! If you've never taken a retreat or sabbatical, you should -- might I suggest once every 7 years?


25 March

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.


18 March

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!


08 February

A Pastor's Wife Asks: How Do I Connect With Other Pastors' Wives on Your Site??

From the inbox:
   Q. I'm not really sure what I signed up for, I still feel pretty ignorant about this blogging "dealie" LOL! But I'm up for connecting.

Signed, (a friend on facebook)
Note: If you're a pastor's wife who has a question you'd like answered here, e-mail us (askapw at pastorswivesconnection.com).

Dear PW Friend, 

I'm so glad you asked! I didn't have a question in the mailbox to answer this week. But more importantly, if you're confused, I'm sure many others are confused as well.

The purpose of this blog is to help you connect with other pw bloggers, while also allowing other pastors' wives who may not have a blog to interact with our blogging community. Here's a quick list of how to receive the most benefit from our network.

How to connect with other pastor's wife bloggers

  1. Help another pastor's wife.

    You don't need a blog to participate. Simply look through the Ask a PW section and comment to share your encouragement and expertise. Or submit your own question to the community and check back for replies.
  2. Use our blogroll to find other pastors' wives.

    Click here for a list of all pastors' wives, or peruse the latest updates in the sidebar. Encourage another pastor's wife with your comments, likes, etc. 
  3. Write a guest post.

    Have something on your heart you'd like to share with other pastors' wives? Submit your material to us. (Again, it's not necessary to have a personal blog to participate.) See our contributor guidelines for more information.
  4. Watch for the Weekly PW Blog Round-Up.

    Each week, I highlight recent posts from our pw community that I believe will be of interest to other pastors' wives. It may be a post about women, a neat craft, an insight on a Bible passage, a book/product review, or just a general thought about the life of a pastor's family.
  5. Let me interview you and feature your blog.

    Each week I'll also feature a new pastor's wife we can all get to know. We'll pray for you all week, too, because we're cool like that! (See this post for more details.)
  6. Add your blog to our list.

    Help other pastors' wives find your blog. As our site grows, we'll subdivide as necessary; so please note senior pastor's wife, youth pastor's wife, missionary/missionary's wife, etc. and whether your blog is focused in on a single topic.
  7. Stay in touch!

    We have several options, and I recommend choosing more than one so you don't miss out on any new features. Also important! Word on the web is that google friend connect is being phased out. At the very least, it is being discontinued for all non-blogger blogs beginning March 1st, 2012. While "follow" is an easy way to keep up with a blog, it appears that google may be transitioning this service to google plus, so we're already there, even though it's quite lonely over there at the moment!
  8. Ask!

    Have I missed anything? Still confused? Ask away, and I'll do my best to answer.


03 February

TLC Reality Show: Preacher Wives. What is Your Gut Reaction? Updated -- Poll & Link-Up

From The Huffington Post
TLC is taking audiences into the holy world of Atlanta's "Preacher Wives." The new reality series...will follow the "outspoken ladies who work to ensure that their churches run as smooth as Southern-churned butter." (Click here for full article)
(Additional information can be found in this short article from the Atlanta Journal Consitution.)

So, what do you think?

Initially, I cringed; as I generally do when I see a pastor's wife portrayed publicly. So many stereotypes abound that are so far from the truth.

At the same time, I think it could possibly portray the women in a positive light. I certainly hope so.


Update -- Poll & Linky
Though I still cringe at what will be portrayed, I looked through the descriptions given for the show in the media, and would say there's some truth to it at least. I personally know pastors' wives who are co-pastors or who do preach in their church occasionally. I myself would say that I am at work in my congregation and help people.

How many of these describe you? Are you going to blog about the show? Speak out in our poll, and/or link up below this poll to your blog post on the subject:

As a Pastor's Wife, Are You/Do You (check all that apply)

Are You Blogging About the Upcoming TLC Preacher Wives Reality Show? Link Up!

31 January

A Pastor's Wife Asks: Square Peg, Round Hole?

From the inbox:
   Q. How does one overcome the "don't fits"? And yet still feel wanted or not alone while trying to find my place of acceptance just as i am?

Signed, Square Peg, Round Hole 
Note: If you're a pastor's wife who has a question you'd like answered here, please contact us.

Dear Sqare Peg, 

I'm so glad you contacted us. I want to first give you a warm welcome. I wish you could feel the (((hugs))). You're accepted here. You're not alone.

From your post, I gather that you don't fit what many may regard as a typical pw mold. Maybe you don't ____________  like the last pastor's wife did; nor have a gifting in _________________, like other pastors' wives you know. Maybe you don't feel called to organize certain ministries that others may presume all pastors' wives are called to do.

Or maybe your personality is just different than the last pastor's wife.

Am I in the ballpark yet?

If so, you're among good company, as many of us would probably say we don't fit the mold either. The shame is that there's ever been a suggestion that a mold exists.

I don't believe God asks a pastor's wife to set aside the unique talents and passions she may have, simply because her husband is now a pastor.

When God called Jeremiah, He said, "Before I made you in your mother's womb, I chose you. Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work." (1:5, NCV)

You and I may not be called as a prophet to the nations, but God knew us just as well. He knew our personalities. He gave us our talents. He created us purposefully, knowing His plans for us -- even knowing that one day we would marry a pastor.

(Find The Only Acceptance That Matters)
My advice to you is first, look to Jesus for your acceptance, and remain secure in God alone. He made you, after all, and He knew what He was doing! Resist that urge to let anyone else define you or determine your worth.

In Matthew 11, He invites us,
"Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. The burden that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light." (vv. 28-30, NCV)
There is such freedom in those words!

(Find a Place to Belong)
And secondly, balance that by intentionally finding places where you do fit in. You need a life outside of the church walls. Whether it's a hobby, a passion, or an interest; seek out places where others of like mind are gathering.

Or stretch yourself, go to a community class and learn something new. Meet new people along the way. Don't tell them you're a pastor's wife at first. Let them get to know you outside of their preconceived ideas, before they ask what your husband does for a living.

(Find the Lonely)
And finally, I've noticed that when I am feeling lonely or unaccepted, the best place to start is in looking for others who seem alone or like they're not fitting in either. This has been especially true since we've moved halfway across the country.

At church and even at school assemblies, I look for people whom others seem to be ignoring. They're generally happy that someone cares enough to say, "Hello." We minister to each other as we get to know each other.

And we're in good company, as Jesus did the very same thing.

So celebrate the fact that you don't fit into a cookie cutter mold. Enjoy the freedom it brings. You'll be grateful you did, and the next pastor's wife in that church will certainly thank you.

Blessings to you as you let God mold and shape you instead.


p.s. Are you a square peg, too? Chime in and let our PW know she's not alone. Any other thoughts or advice? Please leave a comment below to help our sister pw out...

Pastors' Wives On Facebook