To our friends and our church family on Moving Eve

Packing up over a decade of your life into boxes with tape and marked with sharpies seems oversimplified. Staring out at the sea of boxes you wonder where all those years flew by, where you put all the meals and all the laughter, all those shared tears, and the days that seemed to be to mediocre to remember before, but now you feel desperate to never forget.

You can’t box up twelve years of your life. You can only box up possessions: photos, a few greeting cards, a special coffee mug, little pieces of memories of a life shared together.

You can’t box up people and take them with you. I promise you that if this were a possibility I would have duct taped and labeled more than a few individuals with a tag that said “Living Room: friends, must enjoy more often!”

So, instead as we transition to something new, a new day, a new challenge, a new journey, I will only say these few words for our church and our friends. We have lived life well together, in close proximity, and we will live a life well, though there be miles between.

First, Love one another.

Not just love a little. It’s so tempting.

It’s so tempting to show care and concern and stop short of deep and meaningful love. This Love is wonderful and painful. We avoid it because it means knitting little pieces of ourself into others and they into us. The stitching involves recognizing where we have failed, where we are imperfect. It means confession and forgiveness, recognizing what they know and do better than us, and rejoicing that we don’t know everything, that we need one another.

Loving also means listening, really listening. I do this utterly imperfectly. I like my words, but every day I learn a little more what it means to listen to understand rather listen to be heard. By listening, we hear who people really are, not who we think they are, or who we’d like them to be. This is Christ’s perfect love for us in action. While we were still sinners, He walked among us, loved wholeheartedly, and chose the cross rather than losing us in eternity.

Second, be kind.

In 12+ years of ministry I am shocked by the absolute care and affection that God shares through His people. Our body of believers in our local congregation and communities really is family. We have been cared for and loved on and have been blessed to share in life’s greatest moments of joy and sorrow with you all.

That said, I am also shocked by people’s ability to say hurtful things. The human person’s desperation that runs so deep as to destroy another standing right in front of them. Speak well of each other. Speak well to one another. Please speak well of us as we leave. Speak well of the next pastor and their family. We’re all in this together. Those outside the Church on Earth do not know what they are missing in this beautiful Family of God, but they will never know if we only show them our grouchies. Be kind.

And lastly, invite one another in.

It’s so tempting to be private. To keep our dark stuff and our hard stuff to ourselves, and even life’s everyday joys tucked in. If we don’t share, then it might be less embarrassing, less intimidating, but guess what, life doesn’t actually hurt any less. It hurts more. We were intended to share the burden. To walk together. Don’t keep it to yourself. Share it with the person sitting next to you, share it with your pastor, share it with your sister. Going it alone works for a very little while, but if we had known the struggles and gifts and joys that we know after twelve years with one another, imagine what God could do with that! It robs each of us of time and energy, hiding our best and our worst selves.

Let people know you are hurting, you’re sick, or you’re disappointed, in your family, at your work, at church. Don’t hold it all in. Don’t try to manage. This, my friends, this is what the family of God is for – confession, forgiveness, life together, life testifying where in the world Christ is at in the middle of it all, with and for one another.

If I could pack you all up with me, I would. If I could have all those I love in one small commune in the middle of the cornfields, with Ohio sunsets and Nebraska hills, I would. But He has other plans, so I will embrace them wholeheartedly, when it hurts, and when it’s good…and when it’s all of the above, boxed together, closed with packing tape, and marked up with a sharpie.

My “Not a Pastor’s Wife” Shoes

But now, O Lord, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.
                                                            Isaiah 64:8
I have this pair of shoes. I love them. I was forced to buy them in one of the best bridesmaid purchases of all time. They are hot pink leather and wonderful. The heel is a good three inches. They are freakishly comfortable for their height, and they are completely impractical. They make me feel like a princess and a rockstar all at the same time. Every time I wear these shoes I get compliments without fail. They are a seriously great pair of shoes.
I wore these shoes out, for my husband’s benefit, on our 15thwedding anniversary, just last May. The plan was dinner and jewelry. This year demanded a mark of celebration in the form of refined diamonds- formed deep within the Earth, under heat and pressure. A fair representation of God’s work in us over the last few years. We had made it fiercely through a difficult season, holding hands, and building one another up, by God’s mercy and grace.
We walked into the jewelry store. We had a clear cut budget and a hip jewelry salesperson who understood our language…unique and understated, please. Atypical. Her name was Jaime and I’ll never forget her. She gave me one of the seemingly greatest compliments I’ve ever known.
“You don’t look like a pastor’s wife!”
Jaime’s words set my heart on fire with an elated sense of worth and appreciation. But why? Why was this compliment so valuable to me? It didn’t even make sense. I LOVE being a pastor’s wife! Why would I want someone to recognize that I don’t look like one?! Why does it matter so much to me?
I looked at Dave and told him, “It’s not just me. Most pastor’s wives I talk to desperately want to ‘look like something else.’ Why is that? What’s wrong with ‘looking like a pastor’s wife?’”
It took me 8 months to circle around to a conclusion:
No one wants to be put in a box.
No one wants to be generalized.
We want desperately to be kept outside of a category. While being in a group is fun and special, being seen as an individual, with unique thoughts and contributions, unique and valuable words and actions, this is an important part of who we were made to be.
Being part of the body of Christ is our reality, ordained by God. He sees us as chosen “people” not just a chosen person. He sees us as members fit together as parts, working together, striving together. But he also sees each of those parts very much as valuable pieces of clay, molded and made by Him, set apart for every good work, individual testimonies giving glory to Him, shining His light.
It’s common in “pastor’s wife world” to claim you are atypical. “I’m not like those other pastor’s wives. I don’t dress like them, play the organ like them, talk like them,” we say. But in order to change this perception that there is a “perfect pastor’s wife” or even a “typical pastor’s wife,” we have to change our own language.
There is no typical in God’s economy. Period. When we look at those around us and group people into categories, no matter how useful –
Millennials, jocks, engineers, the mentally ill, artists…
We stop seeing the individual. We turn back into our eighth grade selves, careful of what tables we sit at, and who we invite over. It changes not only us, but our ministries as well. There is no typical pastor, just as there are no typical computer software specialists, secretaries, or cashiers. And there certainly are no typical seminary wives or pastor’s wives.
Jesus has the perfect picture of the pastor’s wife in His Word. Psalm 64:8 proclaims that we are all the work of His Hand. Psalm 139:14 declares that work as wonderful, each of us- wonderful. Songs of Songs 1:15 calls us beautiful, simply as His creation.
And so, I embrace my crazy awesome shoes and wear them with a bit of pride for my solid fashion sense (ha!). I click around happily in them, looking forward to my night on the town, but firmly knowing they have absolutely nothing to do with my identity.
Sneakers, flats, flip flops, or heels…none of it has to do with who I am as a wife that loves my husband and loves Jesus even more.
And so I responded to Jaime’s compliment, “Thanks! I don’t think there really is a cookie cutter pastor’s wife. I do hope you get a little Jesus when I’ve left here today though.”
Because in all of it. That’s all that matters. Jesus proclaimed by every step of my three inch heels.

Embracing L.I.F.E. as a Pastor’s Wife

What do duct tape, post its, and name tags
have to do with ministry life?
Find out!

Join us for a free live streaming event with 
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. 
There will be Biblical encouragement and insights to share. 

Join the discussion in person and online 
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and on twitter @womenofcsl



Download the listening guide HERE

My husband the preacher

“…And how will they hear without someone preaching?”
                                                                                    Romans 10:14
My Husband the Preacher
My husband was preaching Sunday on THIS day being from the Lord. This day being an opportunity to focus on Him. Each day being filled with joys and sorrows that remind us of His mercy and grace, and His love in our lives. He must have said “this day” about 50 times in his message.
The sermon wasn’t necessarily more exceptional than others, but a new thought dawned on me…
Every Sunday I go to church. Sometimes will bells on, and sometimes reluctantly, I admit. It’s a workout, with four kiddos who each need something different, need to be in different places, or who just have needs. There are a million people to see and check in on each Sunday. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the life of the church, blessed by it truly, but overwhelmed by it.
Sunday, I sat in my pew and listened to my husband’s message. The message sat in my heart and God spoke in His Word a new kind of gratefulness to me, in my vocation as pastor’s wife.
Wow! This is the day I get to hear the Word from my husband’s lips. 
How many other women get to do this, and so frequently?
Sometimes as a pastor’s wife, I feel a bit robbed of a pastor. It’s true. If I have a need, who do I call on? My husband? He’s busy with a million other needs. In addition to that, he hears with husband ears when I speak, not necessarily pastor ears- objective, grace giving, third party ears.
And it’s so easy as a pastor’s wife to feel a little left out of the flock, or to focus on the negatives of the church. We, after all, often have a behind the scenes glimpse of all the beauty and ugly that can be found in our congregations.
But what God reminded me on this day, is that I am in a small but mighty group of ladies that hear the Word of God directly spoken over them by their husband on any given Sunday. I have no doubt where my husband’s heart is. He is praying earnestly to have the message of God heard clearly by the receivers. I can gratefully be one of those participants.
Kids in the pew, needs all around, a bit of loneliness creeping in. Yes. But blessings tucked into the chaos. Oh my, yes!

THIS is the day His Word goes out. This is the day my husband gets to be the container pouring it out. This is the day I will rejoice and be glad in exactly where He has put me, and trust that every little day is part of His plan.

A pastor’s wife that changed my life…

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.                                                                                                       Ephesians 4:16

When I was growing up my pastor was larger than life in my eyes. He wore these special outfits, could fill a whole church with his voice, and just knew so much! Once confirmation hit, he patiently listened to every argument I had about women in the church. And he never once made me feel like I was a heathen (even though my teen years were rocky at best). All of this made a huge impact on my life. I understood forgiveness and mercy and grace because it was extended to me, not just through the booming voice from the pulpit on Sundays, but through the man I knew as Pastor.

All of this matters, but there is a piece of the story that could easily go unnoticed. When I was 17 and trying to pick a college, it was a major ordeal. I was at a crossroads. I visited no less than 20 different schools; state schools, private schools, all girls schools, huge schools, tiny schools. I knew somewhere deep down that whatever I chose had the power to change the course of my life, and I hated that. I was frustrated and scared and too immature to know that God would work in my life no matter what path I took. 

One Sunday, after returning from a particularly daunting round of college visits in Chicago-land, my pastor’s wife found me in the giant post-service crowd. 
   “How did it go?” she asked.
   “Ok. Blah. I don’t know.” I replied in my teenage angst.
   “Have you ever thought about Concordia?”

Freeze frame…at this point I had never heard of Concordia, and I didn’t know that there were 10 of them. I’m kind of thankful I didn’t know, because it wasn’t Concordia in that moment that mattered. 

It was my beautiful pastor’s wife, reaching in. 

I was lost and struggling. My parents were awesome, but I needed other people invested in my life, caring, loving, and encouraging me to stay the course. Honestly, I’m 100% positive that life would have looked a whole lot different for me without this conversation. In her Concordia question, Mrs. Sharon Fraker wasn’t just asking me if I wanted to go to a Lutheran school… she was telling me I had value enough to contemplate life with, that whatever path I walked, she’d help me search it all out. And she did. That question opened my eyes to the reality that I mattered to the Church and her people. That God had a plan for me and there were people who would help me discern it. I wasn’t in this alone. 

My pastor’s family did other things. They came to the plays I was in, they showed up when invited to our big, loud family celebrations, and they invited me into their home to babysit for their precious children. All of these things made life together real for me, it helped me to understand that the Church isn’t four walls and a steeple, but people invested in one another, in and out of trials.

I went to Concordia, found the deaconess program, met friends for a lifetime, devoured the Word, and married my hilarious husband, who happened to be pre-seminary. I turned out just fine and I am forever grateful to one pastor’s wife who took a little time to invest in me. 

How many of us have been impacted by the woman who happens to be married to the pastor? I want them to know, they make a difference. Whether in quiet conversation or overt leadership, these women have an impact, and I, for one, am grateful. 

*Orientation week exploring at Concordia Chicago 🙂

Let’s share our stories! Tell me about a pastor’s wife that had an impact on your life. You can share in the comments or contact me for a guest post. Blessings, as you bless those around you, friends!