We’re in this together…

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
                                                                                 Ecclesiastes 4:9
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly…
                                                                                 1 Peter 4:8

Yesterday, Jonah had a crudey hockey game. He didn’t play horrible, but he got trampled and scored on 10 times. In goalie land, that stinks. And it feels stinky. I walked into the locker room after the game to find my son with his head hung down, still sitting with all his pads on. He looked tired and defeated. 

I tried to encourage him, build him up. He’s still relatively new at this hockey thing. He played hard and stopped a million shots. He’ll get ’em next time. All my words and encouragement were good and maybe even helpful, but only made so much of a difference. He still sat slumped over and dejected.

And then…light. A puck landed square in Jonah’s lap. I looked up to see a skinny little hockey teammate. He slapped Jonah on the shoulder and said, “Good job, Jonah. We’re lucky to have you, man. I’ve been there. It’s hard.”

He went back to have a seat. Jonah turned the puck over. Written on the puck was the word “WOW” in boy handwriting. Jonah looked up at me and said, “Where are we eating dinner? I’m hungry.” And I knew he would be just fine.

Someone – nay, a teammate, a comrade – lifted him up. He said in a thousand different ways, “We’re in this together.” 
What a difference together makes.

There are dark and difficult times in life. There are also just moderately junky days, embarrassing moments, and times we feel let down or like we let everyone around us down. What makes the difference?
    Together.

God created the church for a purpose. He’s a God of relationship. When those around us rally and take a moment to recognize that we aren’t an island, we aren’t a ship tossed alone at sea, but we are a body, built and knit together in Him, this is how we reach around us. Who are the ones that need to hear “I’ve been there. It hurts. But you’re not in this alone.”? Who is waiting to have the puck land in their lap and to be lifted up by the acceptance and warmth of the team?

Maybe it’s you, maybe it’s your pastor, maybe it’s one of the youth, maybe it’s your grouchy neighbor. There is One who has walked the dusty road, who knows what it’s like. Who embraces us because He loves that which is broken, not just to fix it, but because it is broken and he sees Together in broken.

Either way, sister, brother, you are not alone. 
We are in this together. 

Jonah carried that puck around with him all day today. I think he learned this life lesson long before I ever did. He can move forward. He’s ready to be all in, because he’s not in it alone.




Index card notes and never ending Love

Romans 8:39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
What a beautiful way to end a series of devotions.  No mountain you have to climb, or valley deep and dark can separate you from Christ. Nothing in creation- no person, no place, no danger, no toil, no frustration, no job, no broken relationship – nothing can separate you from your Father, who loves you.
In the marriage relationship, love waxes and wanes. It changes and grows, certainly, but you will have seasons when love is vibrant and seasons where love is dull and even seemingly lifeless. Because of the one-flesh relationship being the most intimate one we will ever experience on Earth, we often relate God’s love to our experience within the marriage relationship. This happens without even thinking about it. In the times we feel unloved and devalued by our spouse, we wonder if there is a God who finds us valuable, who loves us no matter what. We can learn two things from this.
First, this verse speaks truth into our lives. God does love us, come what may. He always has and He always will. Nothing in creation, nothing around us or in us, or happening to us, can change His love for us. We cling tightly to these verses as Christians for a reason – our basic need to be loved, to be known and loved in spite of all of it.
Second, what can we do in our lives to help our spouse know the truth of this verse? What are we doing daily to grow in love together, so that God can speak to them through us? This may be one of the primary means that God uses to speak His love in to the lives of those around us. If our marriages were unbelievably strong, others may take notice of a God whose love is so deep, so wide and unfathomable, that divorce rates and life challenges and petty arguments have no hold on our marriages. It would be obvious that He is clearly the one at work. This model may be more valuable to the life of the church than anything else we ever do.
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Thank you, Lord, for your inseparable Love. Thank you, Lord, for being perfect in our imperfect marriages. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

I’m a big fan of index cards. I buy them in bulk. One thing I do in our house is leave “index card notes” for everyone. On one side I write a Bible verse that I want to share with them and on the other side I write a small note. Sometimes it’s just encouragement, sometimes it’s to apologize for something, sometimes it’s a thumbs up for something specific.
It’s easy and not something I have to do every day, but just as the Spirit guides.
What ways do you share God’s love funneling from you to your spouse or those you love each day?
I’d love to hear them!



Scattering gifts…

For the body does not consist of one member but of many.

                                                     1 Corinthians 12:14

One day during Holy Week, my children and I sat around the school table, talking about plant classification (exciting stuff!). Someone was probably lamenting the heavy burden placed on them by Mom, the homeschooling tyrant. Someone else was probably demanding a snack. 
 
My husband innocently pops his head in the door and sweetly says to me, “Hey, were you planning on singing for Easter? I’m just getting the bulletin organized.” I glanced up from my work, and I’m not sure the look on my face, but I know the turmoil inside –
      One more thing, Lord. Really. 
      How am I going to manage?
      Where is the time going to come from?
      Maybe I can practice while the noodles cook….
      No, I need to return that phone call.   
      How about during quiet reading time?
      I need to get Bible study ready for tomorrow. 
 
And so on and so on. We all have the internal dialogue. Mine tends to range from organized files to harried and discombobulated. 
 
My husband looked into my face and gently imparted timeless wisdom for every pastor’s wife –
            “You don’t have to use all your gifts at one time.”   
 
Good call, dear. I’m going to sit this song out. I’m going to praise the Lord on Easter morn from the pew. 
 
I so often want to seize every opportunity, meet every need, heal every hurting heart, but not only is that God’s job, I was placed in a body to serve together. A wise person once said, “A need does not constitute a calling.” Sometimes it all seems so overwhelming, so many hurting people, little things to be done here and there and everywhere. God knows. He has a plan. Even this is in His hands. Sometimes His plan for me is to say, “Thanks, but not this time.”
 
God gave each of us many gifts to use for His glory. I’m sure you have so many ways and places to use them. He is so creative with each of us! Rest in this, sister…
      Use them, bless with them, but remember –
      You don’t have to use them all at one time. 🙂 
 
 


A long time in coming…

The LORD your God has blessed you in the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.       
                                                                                              Deuteronomy 2:7

16 years ago I started a journey. I was far from mature, but I knew God had a place for me in this life, things for me to do. I was sure this place was exotic and wonderful. I took classes to be a deaconess. I married my stand-up husband, I worked to get him through grad school, and followed him to the far reaches of the earth- well, at least to Northwest Ohio. 8 hours from home and 30 miles to the nearest Aldi and TJ Maxx.

Far from exotic, I lived in the corn fields. It was shocking to me that people lived without sidewalks, and finding a friend took a few years and is still one of my greatest struggles. Those early months were so hard. It was lonely, confusing, and consisted of me vacillating from embracing my new life to yelling at God for torturing me so. I took a deep breath. I joined a bible study full of wonderful women, real women, with real problems, who really loved the Lord.

In the next 9 years, I came to the conclusion that is the force behind this blog. My life will continuously be a struggle this side of heaven. All of our lives will. But it will also be filled with sweet, sweet joy, continuously finding that wonderfully exotic place God has for me, wherever he has so deemed to put me.

As a pastor’s wife, I find that I am not alone in this struggle. I have sat beside, chatted with, and prayed with many women, just trying to figure out how to best balance the eight thousand balls they juggle in the air that comes with the territory. Sisters, this blog is for you. I hear your heart. I see your struggle. I laugh with you when the joy comes.

I love my shepherd and I know you do too.

I love my Shepherd. I love Jesus and all that his grace has been and done and redeemed me from in my life. How do I make my life about Him? How do I seek Him in everything, everyday?

I love my shepherd. I love my husband and struggle to show him this each day, in the midst of everyday marital junk and joy. I watch him in his work and am so proud of God’s work through him, so devastated when he hurts, and so tired of spending Christmas and Easter lonely. How do I love him best? How do I build him up, instead of tear him down?

I love the people God has entrusted to me. I read in an article recently another pastor’s wife say, “Let’s face it. You’re part of the ministry too.” Truth spoken, like a balm to my heart. Thank you for recognizing this, random stranger in a magazine. And so far in this life my job has simply been Mom and student. Some of you are Moms like me, some of you are nurses, some are engineers. God has a path and a place for each of us, but on this journey, because he has given us our husbands to support, we are in ministry. This looks different for each of us. No necessary talents required, like playing the organ or teaching Sunday School. We follow the way God chooses to use us, but we are doing ministry, because we are the front line encourager for a man who is constantly under fire from Satan’s arrows. How do I love the people God has put in my path? How do I share Him, while sharing my husband, and balancing life and work and children, and a clean home, and friends, and attempting to get a devotion in?

So I have a new leg of my journey. It just got more exotic! I accepted a call as a Deaconess to Serve Pastor’s Wives with Grace Place Lutheran Wellness Ministries. I am looking forward to talking and laughing with precious women, finding resources to help pastor’s wives and families in the struggle, and offering opportunities for sharing our hearts with others who understand.

This blog is meant to be simply a piece of all that. It will be real. I firmly believe healing comes through realness, authenticity, and honesty in not just who God is, but what he’s brought me through. I will be blessed if you join me in this journey.