My “Not a Pastor’s Wife” Shoes

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 on the town, for my husband’s benefit, on our 15th wedding 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, only by God’s grace and mercy.

We walked into the jewelry store with a clear cut budget. We found a delightful and hip jewelry salesperson who understood our language – unique and understated, please, something…atypical.

Her name was Jaime and I’ll never forget her. She gave me one of the 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. And I had to ask myself, “Why?”

Why was this compliment so valuable to me? My extreme response didn’t make logical sense. I loved being a pastor’s wife! Why would I want someone to recognize that I don’t look like one? Why did this compliment matter so much to me?

I sat across from my husband at dinner and processed all of this, “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 moveable 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 have heard on more than one occasion. “I don’t dress like them, play the organ like them, talk like them,” it has been said. But in order to change this perception that there isn’t 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.

When we look at those around us and group people into categories, no matter how useful –

Millennials, jocks, engineers, those who struggle with some kind of disorder, artists, Christians…

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 our perceptions, but our ministries as well. There is no typical pastor, just as there are no typical computer software specialists, administrative assistants, 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.

I embrace my crazy awesome shoes and wear them with a bit of pride for my solid or not-so-solid fashion sense. 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.

I need to retire my pink high heels. They are getting warn out, but today I know my response to the very kind jewelry sales person’s compliment better than I did that day, “Thanks! I don’t think there really is a cookie cutter pastor’s wife, but I do hope you have received a little Jesus because I was here today though.”

In all of it, that’s all that matters –

Jesus proclaimed in every step of my three inch heels.

Ministry Moment: New Words Bookmark DIY

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.

Proverbs 18:21 

There have been years I’ve done the New Year’s Resolution thing, and years I’ve made general goals. Last year I claimed my word for the year. It’s all good stuff. I have little opinions on whether any one method is better than another. To each his own.

But I do like to embrace anything that will help me drown the Old Adam. The more creative the better, because that Old Adam, he just seems to have a really hard time going down.

Old Adam = A phrase we use biblically and theologically to define the presence of the sinful nature that is present in our personhood, also known as the old self.

We all have some perpetual sins. Sins that sit and stay awhile, and create crotchety old men inside of young women. The Old Adam has his knuckles clenched around these sins, holding strong, screaming, “But I don’t want to change! It’s so hard. So…much…work…I like my sin. It’s cozy to some extent. It’s familiar.”

I remember Sharla Fritz talking in her book Divine Design about this concept, likening our Old Adam sins to cozy sweaters that are really quite itchy and uncomfortable when we stop and think about them, but we put up with them anyway, constantly convincing ourselves that they are comfy.

Words are like this for me – language – I use so much of it, and sometimes, in all honesty, it’s not pretty. It’s not cozy. Sometimes my words leave a wake of sorrow in their path – accusations, frustration and anger, ill-conceived mediation in the wrong time and wrong place. Words. They can do so much good, but wow, can they burn.

This year, I want new words. While searching vaguely around the Internet last fall, I found an image that stated this simple concept…

Make Each Word a Gift

Words are powerful. The Bible tells us in the Wisdom Literature that they have the power of life and death. They can build up or tear down. They can destroy or give grace upon grace.

Many of my words are good. They share God’s love and mercy with those around me. But enough of my words scream Old Adam enough to poke me in the conscience and make me want to turn around, to face the other direction, and by the power of the Spirit to walk the hard path of change.

I want to make each word a gift.

So, while I was getting ready for a streamed event on life as a pastor’s wife through Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, I decided to make myself a visual. Then I decided that it was something meant to be shared. So, I made a bookmark…one side has gift wrap and the other side has duct tape (albeit pretty duct tape). Sometimes, my tongue needs a reminder to just keep it zipped (duct tape). More often, I just need to invite myself to  make each word a gift (gift wrap).

Here are the instructions for the fun bookmarks, in case you feel the hankering for a visual also. This would be a great and easy project for a women’s retreat, youth devotion, a classroom, wherever.

Making words a gift bookmark DIY:

First, cut strips of wrapping paper and duct tape the same length. I cut each piece to be 9.5” x 2”.

Next, stick them back to back.

Last, punch a hole a quarter inch from the top of the wrapping paper/gift wrap combo and attach a gift tag in order to make it more visual.

Options:

attach pretty ribbon through the gift tag hole

write with sharpie anywhere on the bookmark “Make each word a gift!” or an encouraging Bible verse regarding words and language

share this blog post as a devotion with your bookmark to give to someone or use with your group

Here are some examples: 
If you use this DIY idea, give us a shout out in the comments. I’d love to see how yours turned out and how you used it.
Blessings on this New Year with new words!
(I found the concept of Make Each Word a Gift from Pocketfuel. I follow them on twitter because I love their images, devotions, and reminders of the Biblical message of Hope. Thanks, Pocketfuel!)

A pastor’s wife that changed my life…

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 information!

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. I questioned everything, and he seemed to enjoy answering my questions. He never once acted like he had all the answers, but I remember him opening his Bible and declaring we could find them together.

All of this left 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.

There is a piece of this 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, and 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 knowledge. 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 flow of the post-service crowd.

“How did it go?” she asked.

“Ok. I don’t know. Not great,” I replied in full-on teenage angst.

“Have you ever thought about Concordia?” she offered.

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 struggling. My teen years were rocky at best. My parents were awesome, but we all need other people invested in our lives – caring, loving, and encouraging us to stay the course.

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 Christian school… she was telling me I had value enough that I was worthy of contemplating life with, that whatever path I walked, she’d help me search it out. And she did.

That question opened my eyes to the reality that I mattered to the Church and to the people that make up that Church. It told me that God had a plan for me and there were people who would help me discern that plan. It breathed into me the truth that I was not in this life alone.

My pastor’s family did other things. They came to the plays I was in, they showed up without judgement when they were invited to our big, loud family celebrations, and they invited me into their home to babysit for their growing children. All of these things made the concept of 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 outside of trials.

I did go to Concordia. I found out you could major in theology (really it was like someone told me that you could major in the Bible!). I found out that God was concerned for women and their needs through the deaconess program. I met friends for a lifetime 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 these women to know that 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 with my roommate from Concordia Chicago, in my Birkenstocks, of course. 😉

Let’s share our stories! Tell me about a pastor’s wife that had an impact on your life. Share in the comments or on social media with the hashtag #lovemypastorswife #ilovemyshepherd