The Dutch Rush

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Category: Church

why I love being a pastor’s wife

A few months ago I was having a conversation with a total stranger. When she discovered what Michael did for a living, she said “oh gosh, isn’t it awful being a pastor’s wife?”.  She said one of her relatives was a pastor, and she felt it was one of the worst jobs possible.

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Michael’s Sermons

For observant readers, this post may seem pointless. But others may not have noticed that I now have links on the blog for Michael’s sermons. I’ve been meaning to do this for quite some time, and I thought I’d tell you why.

It is an honor to be married to such a bold, yet caring preacher of God’s word. I’m so grateful to share this calling with him, and glad that God has allowed me to be a part of this work.

It takes tremendous courage to continue to preach God’s word faithfully, in the way God has revealed His Word to you, whether it’s popular or not.

I am able to see behind the scenes, so I know what goes into each Sunday morning. I can honestly say that God is real and powerful, and Michael is faithful and courageous. Some weeks it seems as if the Devil is throwing everything at us, and so what happens on Sunday morning in those times can feel miraculous.

There is no source of power for God’s people-for preaching, or teaching, or for anything else-except Christ Himself. Apart from Christ, anything which seems to be spiritual power is actually the power of the flesh.

-Francis Schaeffer

Sometimes I wish I could share with you all how God has come through and shown His power. Most of those stories aren’t mine to tell, but often through those stories I am reminded that God is truly here. He is in control of things whether we want to admit that or not.

It’s important to me to share these sermons with you. There are a lot of voices out there, begging you to listen to them. Many may be good speakers, but to me it seems that few care as much as Michael about making the Truth tangible, understandable, and relevant, while staying true to what the Bible is saying.

I’ve been reading about the Waldensians lately. They are a group of people who are credited with starting a pre-reformation in the thirteenth century. They loved their Bibles. They defended the faith heartily. Even after facing severe persecution, they became traveling peddlers, sharing the Truth with all who would listen.

“We have a precious stone, the Word of God. It is so brilliant that by it’s light a man may see God.”

-The Waldensians

These men reminded me of Michael. They had fierce determination, faithfulness and courage to preach God’s word passionately to any who would listen.

Sometimes, it is astounding to me that it is such a battle to share our faith.

It seems like it should be the simplest thing in the world. Of course, at times sharing our faith is simple, and I am grateful that Michael communicates the simplicity of the Gospel.

But what shocks me is the level of difficulty in convincing long time Christians that we are actually in a battle. It’s a terrible battle with millions of casualties. And Satan is actively fighting with everything he’s got.

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

– Ephesians 6:12

It’s frighteningly easy to become relaxed and comfortable in our own little world.  We forget why we’re here. We avoid thinking about a battle.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in your faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

-1 Peter 5:8-9

I know how Michael wrestles with the responsibility of warning Christians that God isn’t playing around. When we choose Him, we choose Him entirely. At the expense of everything else. That can be uncomfortable. When we get to a certain place in life, we’d rather not rethink some things that we have come to hold dearly. We just want to leave things as they are. It’s easier that way.

What God says is best, is best, though all the men in the world are against it.

-John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress

While challenging life-long Christians who would sometimes rather not have new ideas, Michael also has the responsibility of showing how loving and caring God is to those who are just now coming to Him to repent of their sin. Balance is so difficult to achieve, but God knows what He is doing, and how to accomplish His purpose. He grants wisdom to those who seek it.

We are continuously praying that God would use these words that Michael speaks each week. I believe that God is answering that prayer, and I wanted to make these sermons available so others can also be encouraged and challenged.

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for ministry wives

Never forget this…at any point in life, in a thousand different kinds of situations, the answer to [the] prayer, “Use me Lord, I want to be greatly used of you”, can be the hardest thing you have ever faced. It is the answer to prayer that brings exhaustion of a variety of kinds, and that brings a cost to be paid that almost smashes you and me. There is always a cost to being used…for the Lord…the reality of having been used is not wiped out by the resultant cost. We are in a battle, and winning a skirmish brings scars and sometimes deep wounds.”

-Edith Schaeffer, The Tapestry (Emphasis hers.)

I’ll just be honest. I get down about the ministry sometimes. Often I don’t look at the big picture, I get mired in small details, and I forget to keep my eyes on Jesus. I know it’s common, but when I realize I’ve done it again, it feels silly. (But then I read Edith, and it feels less silly. More normal.)

I think of all the other ministry wives out there, struggling to remember who they are and the importance of what God has called them to do. I wanted to share what I’ve read lately.

Although we had already been in ministry for years, and had been warned about the rigors of the senior pastor’s role, I was unprepared for some of those realities. For instance, the hurt and disillusionment that often comes from people being upset (and sometimes ugly) with my husband.

The only thing that makes any sense is to take it all straight to Jesus, praying and confessing the angry feelings to Him. Jesus already knows of course, but the act of confessing all of those hurt feelings is something that must be done. Because the hurt gives anger a grip on my heart that it must not have.

I wanted to share a few things that have been helpful to me.

This seemed to be a poem for a pastor’s family…

If you can keep your head when all about you

are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

and make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

Yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise.

-Rudyard Kipling, “If” first verse

If we are in ministry, then we will have taken the time to put much scripture to memory. But sometimes, a different way of seeing is helpful. This poem gave me a new way of seeing. (And it made me cry.)

Next, a book called First we have Coffee, by Margaret Jensen. I have no idea where I heard of it. The title and cover wouldn’t be my choice for such an important book, but oh well, read it anyway.

Written by the pastor’s daughter, it is a beautiful, heart wrenching tribute to her mother and to the faithfulness of God.

In our culture of “all about me”, this will be a sobering book. It will remind you in a big, important way, that “the ministry” isn’t at all about you. It is only about being the sort of person that God may use as He pleases.

Lastly, The Tapestry, by Edith Schaeffer.  I’m not sure there is better use of your time if you are struggling to be a support to your husband in ministry. A reviewer on Amazon said it was like having a therapy session for pastor’s wives. I would have to agree. I felt that God allowed me to read it at a critical time, and I’m still working through it.

This book made me want to try again to be what God has called me to be. I appreciate that Edith shared the times she didn’t think she could keep going in ministry, and what came from obediently pushing through.

So what am I (slowly) learning from these books?

Make our home a safe haven for Michael. I’m the only one who can do this for him.

The scenes from home blended into one picture: Mama. That must be why Papa needs her so desperately, I thought. She is his home, his roots, his source of life’s meaning, for she continually [encourages] him back to faith in God.

-Margaret Jensen

Make our home a refuge for hurting people. I’m the only one who can make sure I stay available for whoever Michael brings to our home. 

I saw the endless stream of lonely ones that Papa brought to Mama…she was his harbor…God had given him someone special, and he had to share her with the world.

-Margaret Jensen

Raise our children to follow Jesus, and not become bitter towards the ministry.

If we allow God’s love and forgiveness to flow freely, the heartaches of life could be so simply washed away. Simple, but not easy. God’s way, not man’s way.

Mama had walked a road of simple obedience to God’s ways. In her daily discipline of walking she had found His yoke easy, and His burden light. And she had gently opened squeaking doors to the past and oiled them with joy so her children could walk through those doors, not remembering hurts, but only the all-encompassing love of God.

-Margaret Jensen

And a bonus quote that has stayed with me for years:

Children tend to adopt the attitude of their mother. If she doesn’t feel her children are neglected, they won’t feel neglected. With such a family atmosphere, her husband is greatly aided.

-Helen Andelin

If you are a ministry wife, I hope something here can be an encouragement and blessing to you as you continue to encourage and bless others.

The Front Row

Why do I always think about serious things? It really bugs me. I want to be that type of girl who can blog about the awesome new face wash she is now using, or the dress she found at the back of her closet in the perfect color, or some other stupid thing…

But instead I only think of serious things.

However, this one is for entertainment purposes only.

Just for your personal enjoyment, I will regale you with details of what happens in the front row on Sunday mornings.

Heaven help us.

A few months ago, a child who will remain nameless had been to his uncle’s house on Saturday night to watch a UFC fight. It was a Big Deal. Well, that night, John Jones broke his toe. In a horrific way. Yuck. The boys came home and went to bed, no problem…

…until we were in the front row at church singing one of the last songs. This child turns to me, he looks like a ghost. He says “Mom, I don’t feel so good…” well, we all know what that means. When I don’t have my giant gallon size ziplock bag hanging around, then I head outside pronto. But in this case, outside feels like a VERY long ways away. He weaves down the aisle, he can’t see, because he is about to pass out. We make it outside…he begins to get color back in his face…I ask what happened. He’s not sure…

FOUR HOURS LATER, we are sitting at home, after I’ve checked him for a fever, totally re-hydrated him, etc. He looks at me with sad brown eyes and says “Uh, Mom, I was thinking about John Jones’ toe at church. I’m sorry, I know I’m not suppose to think about that in church…”

WHAT THE HECK child!

In my defense, I have never told him what he may or may not think about in church! However, we have a fresh new “No thinking about things that will make you puke or pass out while in church” rule.

Next up, a few weeks later,

We are sitting (in the front row), when all of a sudden my sweet teenage girl tells me that she feels funny and that one of her arms looks WAY longer than the other one.

Oh. My. Gosh. Hang in there, girlie, that happens to me all the time…(not).

Throughout the (interesting, I’m sure) sermon, she continued to see strange things, felt faint, might throw up, etc, etc, etc. Anyone with a teen girl knows this is not entirely out of the ordinary, (for my child it is, but I have hung out with enough teenage girls to know this isn’t outside the normal everyday activity). During the VERY SAME service, Toe Boy starts whispering “MOM, I DON’T FEEL VERY WELL…” I say “oh really, welcome to the club, if you aren’t going to puke, then please just be quiet”. Yeah. I’m getting tough in my old age. I look over to see that he has gotten those little wax soda bottles in sunday school and has not only had the liquid inside, but has also eaten most of the wax too…

Michael said that from his view we all looked like a Chinese Fire Drill.

I couldn’t have described it better myself.

A few weeks later:

I look over at another of my sweet darlings, (do I still need to mention that we are in the front row? At church?) to see him pull his loose tooth out of his mouth. What? TO SEE HIM PULL HIS LOOSE TOOTH OUT OF HIS MOUTH.

The words that went through my head. A good pastor’s wife must not be printing them.

Due to the distraction of having children come in and out of the service, we have forbid our children from heading out to use the bathroom on a whim.

This was not a whim. This was bloody. This was an EMERGENCY. I nodded, he went to swish, wash off and label his tooth.

Naturally he could not have done that at breakfast when we could all see it dangling out of his mouth. Nope.

Next there was the ant infestation. Only in the front row. Of course, they did migrate up onto the stage a few weeks later and were then promptly taken care of. But the first week I could not believe my eyes when I saw ant after ant crawl up my foot. The new carpet disguises them perfectly, so I could not tell that I my feet were basically on an anthill.

To most of you, that really isn’t a big deal. But, I have had enough severe personal encounters with ants in Mexico to ever take an ant lightly again. I also hate how they can take over an entire pantry within minutes. I did not have my pantry at church, but the idea of them crawling up my legs while I had to sit perfectly still…

As luck would have it, I was sitting next to the friend who is most familiar with my aversion to ants. She has witnessed enough of my Mexico situations to know that this was horror of horrors. We just stared at each other. Like “this can’t be happening”. And then we lost it. I had tears. I couldn’t look in Michael’s direction. I comforted myself with the thought that God was probably laughing too.

Annnd that brings us to last Sunday.

I was sitting innocently in my seat when my friend leaned over to me and mentioned that he had not seen or heard from his wife all morning and that was a little unusual.

Huh, I thought to myself. I went back to listening to Michael.

A few minutes later this friend tells me that he would like to go make sure she’s okay, but his keys happen to be on the stage behind Michael and he fears it would cause a bit of a distraction to get them.

I nod, yes, yes it would.

He wonders if he might borrow my keys/car. Oh sure. Apparently I lost my wits for a moment, due to the stress of possibly making Michael get distracted by the goings on in the front row. I decided that I should separate the car key he would need from my other 5 keys, because I must have thought he would be hopelessly confused if I were to hand him the entire key ring. Keys jangle. I see Michael’s eye ball looking at me out of the corner of his eye.

Great.

A few minutes later friend is back. “No worries, she is in the nursery”…

It takes me a few minutes to check back into the sermon. I had not heard a thing for about ten minutes, Michael could have been speaking Latin (think Mr. Bean goes to church) for all I knew.

Next Sunday…

…I’ll still be in the front row. Bring it on.

pastor’s wife

I didn’t really think I was up for this job.

I mean, everyone wants to be a pastor’s wife, right?

We would all like to have their kids watched in such a way that the bee-watcher in Dr. Seuss looks HARMLESS.

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photo(Sorry about the dark, blurry pictures. I took them at night on my phone. I figured non-Seuss fans would want to know what I was talking about).

I realize that maybe some people like being watched. They have an “oh yeah, well if you’re gonna watch me, then I’ll watch you right back” type of attitude. And then others who are watched want to go crawl into a very dark cave…on a little island far far away that no one has ever heard of. Maybe the island Napoleon died on. But people already know about that one. Oh well.

Then there’s the part that I’m just a normal t-shirt and jeans girl. And then for special occasions I pull out my “good” t-shirt and jeans…and then for weddings and things I have even better jeans. (Just kidding)

But, I think I won the Pastor jack-pot. (I think that’s a real thing). God gave me Michael, who lets me be me. Even though that means being married to a casual, jeans wearing, rebel-type pastor’s wife. He has let me find my little place at church and encourages me and cares for me. Like a best friend. God knew what I needed.

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I had wondered if Michael would jump ship from the fishing boat (think day fishing in Baja California) of youth ministry to the crabbing hauler (on that show “Deadliest Catch”) of senior pastor.

I have not been on either of those boats, they both seem dangerous and no one should be out in the open sea, VERY DANGEROUS, what with sea creatures and waves and all.

I began to be a little uneasy about it a few years into youth ministry when Michael would groan over the state of the family. He would go on about how you can only reach a certain amount of people working in youth. I would inform him that I was not “real” pastor’s wife material, I was too selfish, too impatient…t-shirts, jeans, blah blah blah. He would just smile.

But even I could see that all around us there were broken and hurting families. And I was married to someone who had been gifted and called by God to care about these families.

I think I knew it for sure the day he went to start seminary. It was a little like in Job…”the thing I feared has come to pass”. But just a little. It seemed far away.

Then we went through some years that I don’t like to remember. But God had to do some work. Maybe to wrestle me into pastor’s wife land? Whatever it was, it was intense. We had some tough times, and came out on the other side…alive. I’ll take alive.

About a year and a half ago people would ask “So how do you feel about becoming a Pastor’s wife?” And I would say “well…it’s sort of the same as being a youth pastor’s wife…only creepier”.

I mean, he still has to eat, and have clean clothes, and be smiled at.

He will want me to keep trying to teach our children to love God, each other, and people…the same people who take their Dad away at inconvenient times. And that means they will need a good example…

We will still care about people and have them to our home. They will just be bigger…

He will still want me to be right next to him at church. To smile at him, to squeeze his hand, and to tell him what a great job he’s doing. I think I’m in my 17th year of telling him what a great job he’s doing…time flies.

Then last year I got to find out what it was like for real. Amazingly, I have found this:

God gives strength to the weary…the Bible says it and now I know it is true.

But I only have that strength as I need it.

I don’t really like that. I like to plan ahead. I like to feel like I have strength for next week…right now. But it has blown me away. Just when I think I couldn’t possibly be a very good pastor’s wife, another day happens and we make it through.

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God gives incredible peace to me, when I don’t think I can be what I need to be. He is faithful to me.

Life is really weird sometimes. I’m sure everyone knows that. Obviously.

It’s hard to know how to think about this job. On one hand I don’t want to make this role something too important, so I’ll coast for a bit, and just pretend I live a normal life. But then one of those really weird things will happen and people are hurting and need us, and Michael gets worn out and needs me, and if I’m off somewhere coasting I forget that he needs me…to be his comforter, encouragement, cheerer-upper, etc.

So balance, that would be good. An understanding of this job probably takes a long time. Or never. Maybe you never figure it out. Great.

As a teen I read a funny book about a pastor’s wife. (Back when I was planning to never marry a Pastor). The main character of the book had spunk. She knew how to handle him, and yet she still followed him. (Sort of). He took his calling very seriously, and she understood this. It was interesting to read it again at this point in my journey. The opening sentences caught my attention.

“Papa was an old-fashioned preacher. He preached the word of God straight from the Bible, without regard for personalities or consequences.”

-Papa’s Wife

I love how Michael is somewhat like this. Then again, he is not. He cares about delivering the Word of God without diluting it, but you can also sense how he cares about his listeners and where they might be in life. And I love him for it.

There are perks to this job…people bring us things. Tomatoes, plums, beef, pies, churros, (just kidding, no churros).

But really, this is my main big perk:

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I get to look at this every day.

I would cry if I only got to see him on Sunday like most people.

I love hanging out with him, talking about life, church, grass, kids, beef stew, Italians, how being Dutch is better than being anything else, pound cake, Latin roots, whatever…

And I love that he practices what he preaches. Not in a perfect way, in a human, we-all-mess-up-way. That makes what he says on Sunday very real and practical. I could listen to him forever…because he tries to live it, and walk close to God…and of course because he’s such a good preacher. And because he’s so handsome.

I found my motto for this season of married life in my favorite marriage book. I have been blown away by the simplicity and truth of it.  When I live it, things work. When I don’t, bad feelings can multiply. Sort of like rabbits. Anyway, here it is :

“…instead of making him over, try making him happy.”

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He looks pretty happy.

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