Oh Christmas Card…

I love Christmas cards.

I love receiving them, I love giving them.

I like gold foil and nativity scenes and family photos. I look forward each year to getting the letters that tell, however brief, our friend’s stories, of their life and their year.

Each year we also receive a few Christmas miracles.

They come in the form of cards from people who took a bit of extra time to hand select a card, just for my family.

Someone stood in front of a card rack and searched for a card just for their pastor.

Someone wrote a note thanking my husband and our family for faithfully serving.

It blows my mind to imagine it and it touches my heart to be a part of it.

Every Christmas congregational life refreshes my heart in a new way.

I look at my husband, crafting sermons, leading services, checking on shut-ins, and eeking in all the extras for Christmas, and then I look around at people and wonder if they notice. Not notice him, or me, or anything earthly, but do they notice that our God is a God who came to them, just for each of them?  It’s a hard reality in this world – there are thousands who don’t know and don’t care.

Then the cards come.

It goes a long way in a pastor’s heart to hear that what they do makes a difference in someone’s life. That just by being them, by being faithful, by representing a God of Love and Comfort, people have been touched and it has mattered. It goes a long way in my pastor’s wife heart to not be the only one telling him that.

So thank you card companies and thank you members of the Body. These cards are no small thing.

Thank you for building up, reaching out, and including us, every year.

Please see me for me

I am relatively new to the cell phone world. It’s not that I’m a hermit and never knew about them, it’s just that I didn’t own one for years. I semi-shared with my husband because of the cost factor of an extra phone. I stole his when I went on a trip or was “in the city” for the day. Then, I got the awesome opportunity to be his secretary (note the sarcasm), taking messages right and left. So, as a tiny bit of extra income came in, we made the jump to being a two cell phone family.

Yesterday, I realized I put people in my contacts by who they are to me, not necessarily their proper name. My sister is in there according to her childhood nickname and favorite affectionate title from my kids “Ney-Ney.” My friend Jen is “Jen, Mark’s Love.” (We love her too!) Another friend is in there as “Jaime College.” Obviously these aren’t the only dimensions I see of these people, but they are my primary goggles I evidentially identify people by without even thinking.

So, a few weeks ago when I went to put my friend Emily in, I found myself contemplating what to put her in under. Her husband is a vicar and we met through a circuit picnic, so it was really tempting to put her in as “Emily Vicar’s Wife.” But would I want someone to identify me like that? No. I wouldn’t. Somewhere deep down, while I love being the “Pastor’s Wife”, I desperately want people to see me as something else, something more, something deeper.

Being a pastor’s wife is deeply fulfilling. It’s wonderful and scary, and frustrating, and special all at the same time.

But it’s not who I am.

It’s a role I serve, a vocation even. I love being a pastor’s wife. I love being your pastor’s wife. But please see me for all of me. See me as a mom, a deaconess, a social worker, a great conversationalist, a person with a serious problem with being on time, a not so great driver, but a person with passion and exuberance.

But where is my real identity? It’s not actually in any of that. I pray that when you see me, you see Christ. Because that’s the real and true Biblical truth- I am Christ living in me. That is me.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

What do you wish people saw in you, or do you wish they saw if they looked beyond a certain title – pastor’s wife, mom, teacher?

I’m sure one thing they see is Christ. That is what we live for. This life I live, I live not just in service to Him, but as His body on earth. He lives in me and shines in me, and I am a little less me every day and a little more Him, which is a good thing.

All that said, when you go to put your pastor’s wife in your phone, put her in as Sue She Who Rocks a Cheesecake or Mary She’s Super Thoughtful, or even better Elizabeth My Friend.

And if you want, you can put my name in your phone as Heidi Crucified with Christ. I take it as a great complement.

A long time in coming…

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 all you women juggling and discerning and trying to be all in. 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 being lonely in the imperfection of it all. 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, all those precious people He puts in my path. Some of you are moms, 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 and are each women of influence, each in our own place. 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. I am looking forward to talking and laughing with you, finding resources to help women 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.