When the Sun Shines

cloudsFour years ago we packed up our home of 5.5 years and moved 7 hours west. We moved away from friends we loved and family we had drawn so close to. We weren’t running from anything, but it was time to go. Our situation wasn’t dire, but our hearts were ready for a change. We weren’t leaving a place we hated, but it wasn’t what we felt called to, so our hearts ached. The 5.5 years drew us closer to family, helped Pastor get his degree, allowed me to stay in one place as I added 3 children to our family, and taught a series of great lessons. But, in 2010, we knew God had another plan for our ministry. And if you have ever had to wait upon God’s timing for His plan to fold out, you understand this ache I speak of.

 

truckMarch 24th, 2012 (after 2 years of waiting) we pulled our large truck away from the only town our kids had ever known. I didn’t make it a block from my in-laws before I was bawling my eyes out. I knew we were doing the right thing, but it was very hard to take that leap of faith when things had been so easy for 5+ years.

As we drove along, I sang, I prayed, I laughed, I cried, I worried, I encouraged myself… but I never doubted. I knew this journey was one God wanted us on. About 3 hours into our should- have-been-7-but-was-really-10ish hour drive it began to rain. The budget truck could only go 45-50mph, I had a nursing baby in my van along with 3 other excited kiddos (one being an active 2 year old), and I began to grow tired. The rain was NOT my friend that day. My hands were cramping from gripping the steering wheel with the death grip of all death grips, my body sore from packing up the truck, and my mind going through all the plans and dreams I had for our future. By the time we were “almost” there, I was ready to pull over and have a melt down.

When it wasn’t storming, the drive just got boring! Pastor drove the moving truck and I drove our van with the kids. They watched movies, and I tried to occupy my time with music and my own thoughts. It reminded me of the boredom that can come in ministry when you’re in that waiting period. We knew we were actively seeking a new position, but it never kept us from serving with all our hearts at the ministry before us. However, when there is a longing in your heart for something just over the horizon, life can become boring in the wait. This isn’t always a good thing!  This boredom is something to take captive. God does not ask us to stop living as we wait. It’s a HARD thing to do, but needs to be done. Ministry DID continue on as we waited, but it was a constant battle to command our hearts to “do all things as unto the Lord” even in the waiting times.

The storms, as they got worse overhead had reminded me of where we had been. Ministry hadn’t always been nice to us. We’ve gone through betrayal from people we trusted to have our backs. We’d been treated poorly, been overlooked, undervalued, and been let down more times than we thought we could handle. The storms of ministry over the previous 12 years were bleak at times, but we never wanted to give up. We knew that God had called us, and we knew that the sun would someday shine (and really, it was sunny MOST of the time!). And just as the storm had gotten so bad that we contemplated pulling off the road and sitting for a bit, my spirit dropped. The fear of what could happen as we took on this new church in a town we do not know was getting the better of me. I was crying, frustrated at the weather, and at my own fears and I wanted to stop. But I wanted to  hurry up and get there. My excitement and fears were overtaking my thoughts. What if we failed the people of St. James? What if we really did not have what it takes to be leaders? What if they hated us? What if the church never grew and our kids were miserable? My questions were flooding in drowning out the voice of God I had been hearing for the past 9 hours! I felt completely overwhelmed, and then I looked up and the sky opened up. The clouds were dark all around, but the SON broke through. It wasn’t directly over the moving truck. It wasn’t just above the van. Instead it was a few miles up, at our exit into St. James.

In that moment, the fear slipped away. My heart calmed down and I reminded myself of who had called us. I remembered how God had worked out all the details for this position. I remembered all the lessons we’ve learned along the way. I remembered what we had already overcome with God’s leading, and I suddenly could see that the son would keep shining!

We pulled into our new home at about 7pm that night. We were met with the beautiful faces of our new church members. Life was good. Scary, but good! Unknown, but good!

Now, as we celebrate our 4 year anniversary at the church this weekend, we are living this ministry dream. Everything hasn’t been easy, but with God, it’s completely doable. Pastor is leading well. His preaching is top-notch week after week (sorry, I am supposed to be bias, but this is just a fact! haha) and our little church is growing!

I share for two reasons. 1. because I am overjoyed at how amazing God has been to us! I’m so happy that we applied to a small church in St.James, MN (I must confess… I did NOT want to move to Minnesota, but was committed to praying for the will of God. So I asked Pastor if he would not tell me where he was sending applications so that I could pray unhindered by my human biases. So I did not know what state St. James was in until we had decided to travel here for the interview.) I am forever thankful for the board and church members that took a chance on a young pastor who had no lead church experience. The faith it took for this church to take on a large family financially has proven to strengthen the church as a whole. We are so very blessed by the community and this church! 2. I share this for those friends who are still waiting for their sun to shine. Ministry isn’t the only place storms can brew. You may be living in yours right now. Keep your eyes open. God has a plan for your life. Don’t stop living in victory today because your tomorrow hasn’t come yet. God loves you TODAY. Don’t get bored and give up, don’t get discouraged and walk away. Let the clouds part and the SON shine. You, with God’s help, can do this!

 

If you are in the St. James, MN area and have not stopped by Crossroads Church in the past 4 years, give us a try! Our services are at 10a every Sunday Morning! Come celebrate with us this Sunday!
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Know your Pastor’s Wife

Can I just say I love being a Pastor’s Wife. When I was very young my dad would drop us off at a local church when he had us on his weekend (probably to get a tad more sleep). And although I loved to learn about Jesus, I always watched the pastor’s wife. I remember saying I wanted to be one when I grew up. And I remember the odd looks I got. Once I became one, I thought “WHAT WAS I THINKING!?” After being in the ministry with my husband a couple of years a friend of mine got married to a pastor as well. About a year into their marriage she said to me, “Why didn’t you tell me how hard this was!? I’m kind of mad that nobody warned me!”

16 years into this gig and I’m still loving it. However, that statement doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean that it’s glamorous, and it doesn’t mean that I love every aspect. It simply means I am where God wants me, and THAT makes me happy. Being a wife of anyone isn’t always easy, but when your husband’s job puts expectations on you, no matter how absurd those expectations are, and no matter how much we KNOW they are absurd, it adds a level of stress to an otherwise pretty calm wife.

I recently read this article on the 9 Secrets Your Pastor’s Wife Won’t Say Outloud (read it if you have time). And I posted it on a community page that I’m a part of that consists of other WONDERFUL Pastor’s Wives (hey, us gals gotta stick together!). I asked them “What would you add”. Listed below are some of their statements. (some paraphrased)

  • I am the loneliest I’ve ever been in my entire life. When church members need someone to talk to they come to the pastors or the pastor’s wife. They can also go to a friend and pour out their souls. The Pastor’s wife can’t always go to her pastor, (sometimes he’s the reason she needs someone to talk to! lol). And most of the time she doesn’t have a good friend she can be completely open with. (see the next point)
  • We want friends, too. Many people don’t want to be friends with pastor’s wife. So we watch you and your other church friends go to coffee, go out shopping, or have a playdate it only reminds us of how hard it is to make friends… see the first point
  • .We shop second-hand stores, and rummage sales praying for great deals on nice looking clothing because we’re expected to look nice, but  have the lowest income of anyone in the church.
  • When people leave the church without a “reason”, we take it personally. It hurts our feelings (although we’ll graciously wish you well). We pour our heart and soul into helping our husband grow the church, and although deep down we understand everyone has the right to pick what church is right for them, and we DO get that we can’t be “right” for everyone… but when people just up and leave, it hurts… deep down we’re hurting.
  • Sometimes the expectations are over the top, and although we know that, we deep down feel the need to meet those unrealistic expectations. When we can’t, we feel guilty. (Many times because others have talked down to us when we can’t meet their impossible expectations)
  • Our children are just that, children. When church members expect them to live up to unbelievable expectations, they can easily crumble under that pressure. This can cause them to hate church, and eventually leave the church altogether because of their negative experiences.
  • Our children put in MANY hours per year helping at the church. Many times they help set up, help tear down, sleep in pews, come to church when they are under the weather, and work events rather than participate. So when they get extra treats, leftover snacks, or “inside privileges” trust me, THEY DESERVE IT!
  • Our children are church attenders just like yours are, so they should get to enter drawings, compete to win, and win prizes just like all other kids.
  • Associate pastors are pastors, too. Many times they get treated as second class… and their wives are treated even worse. Please be kind, Associate (including children’s and youth pastors) Pastors work VERY hard!)

Maybe these things shock you. Maybe it’s because you didn’t know that some people actually treat people poorly. And sometimes it’s not a deliberate thing, it’s just something that gets overlooked. And possibly you are one of the precious gems in your church who befriend the pastor’s wife and provide a good solid support for her. If that’s you… PRAISE GOD for YOU! Keep it up, and encourage others to do the same.

I have been in a handful of churches in my 16 years as Pastor’s wife (7 of those months I was just the pastor’s fiance) and I’ve experienced both sides. I’ve been hurt, I’ve been overlooked, I’ve been the topic of gossip, and the object of slander… but I’ve been loved, been valued, been supported, validated, and uplifted. Many Pastor’s Wives can’t say that last part of the sentence above. They live life under pressure, condemnation, and eventual depression. If you love Jesus, will you decide today to pray for your Pastor’s wife? Then do something for her. Take her to lunch, coffee, or shopping. See if she’d like to take a walk. Ask her how you can help her. And give her a little grace. Afterall, she’s just human, just like you.

I want to dedicate this post to a lovely lady that passed away WAY before her time. I wish she could see this and know that her encouragement to pastors and pastor’s wives has NEVER gone unnoticed! Wilma Beppler from Trinity Tabernacle in Bridgeton, MO was one of the most talented “Encouragers” I have ever met. I used to pray that God would duplicate the woman and place one of her in every pastor’s life. She was one of a kind. May her legacy live on in every church, and in every pastor’s life (and his wife!). Love you, Wilma, and miss you!