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PPN is a gathering place for women who are living ministry! We have been in existence since 1998 and have been a blessing and encouragement to women all over the world. We provide free resources such as articles by our PPN writing team, message boards and conferences but more important you'll find women sharing openly and honestly about the journey.

Pastors' Wives, Stop Apologizing!

 "Please forgive me if I sound unhappy. I know I just said all this but please know, I love the ministry, I love our church, I love our people, I am soooooooo blessed to serve the Lord. Any sacrifice is worth it. It is such a privilege to serve in the ministry."  
Pastors' wives say things like this a lot after they've just unloaded to another pastor's wife. We always seem to tag on the apology just in case someone thinks we don't love our church, our people or serving the Lord. 
  
We crave sharing with kindred souls what we can only entrust to those in vocational ministry who understand, yet we feel a pang of guilt once we've opened up -- like we're a bad spiritual Mom for doing so.

When Moms get together at a local MOPS meeting and talk about the challenges they face with their preschoolers, do they tag apologies on to the end of everything they say, in fear that someone will think they are bad mothers? 

When mothers of teenagers talk to a guidance counselor about challenges they have with their kids, do they apologize for sharing and say that they hope they don't think they are terrible moms for seeking help? 

When mothers take a break and have a "Moms day out" away from their children are they characterized as uncaring?

We pastors' wives apparently fear that somebody is going to think we're a bad spiritual Mom if we don't tag the ever-present apology on the end of our conversations with others in the ministry.  I even notice this in blog and facebook comments whenever posts are about challenges in ministry. People have to tag on a, "but I wouldn't trade being a pastor's wife for anything!" or "don't get me wrong, I sure do love our people!"

Why do we feel the need to convince people so much? 

Nobody who really has their head on straight in ministry is going to think you're a bad spiritual mom because you:
  •  Need help with your spiritual kids
  • Need a break from your spiritual kids 
  • Are feeling pressured with the demands of spiritual parenting and need encouragement, wisdom and motivation.
There are a tremendous amount of resources to meet the needs of natural parents - things like Focus on the Family. Nobody thinks it odd or unspiritual that parents go there in droves for encouragement to stay the course and do the right thing in parenting.  Can you picture someone going to a bookstore and purchasing The Strong Willed Child or Dare to Discipline and saying to the cashier, "I'm ordering this but pleaaaaase know that I love my kid. I don't want to give them up! I'm soooo blessed to have them. Please, please, please know that!"  Um...no. We'd think that was really unnecessary and kind of weird.

I propose that we relax. There is no condemnation here. Those of us who are seasoned understand completely the need for a time out. We understand that needing to talk doesn't mean you don't love those you've been entrusted with. 

The discussion forum is open 24/7 here at PPN, and there is no need to apologize to us or work overtime to convince us about how happy you are despite the fact that right now you really, really need a listening ear and some encouragement. 

Relax. We understand.

Things I've learned on the journey of letting go

Lately in my conversations with pastors' wives I've noticed a lot of frustration over the things we can't control. I understand. This ever present exercise in futility is one of my main struggles. It brings no fruit yet I find myself getting sucked right back in trying to change things, people and situations I have no ability to change! Round and round we go...

I am on a new quest of letting things go -- really letting them go.  Never to pick them up again.

It sounds easier than it is.

I recently discovered something published by Pastoral Counseling of Northern Virginia that really spoke to me in this journey I'm on of letting go. It's called the Signs and Symptoms of Inner Peace.
Some signs and symptoms of inner peace:
1. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past
experience.
2. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
3. A loss of interest in judging other people.
4. A loss of interest in judging self.
5. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
6. A loss of interest in conflict.
7. A loss in the ability to worry.
8. Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
9. Contented feelings of connections with others and nature.
10. Frequent attacks of smiling.
11. An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.
12. An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the
uncontrollable urge to extend it.
It seemed uncaring when I first began this journey a few months ago. To just...let go? To release all hold on an outcome? To try to do nothing about certain things and just let them be? Total change for me.  But now I'm seeing the evidence that letting go was what I needed to move forward.

Maybe it's what you need to move forward too.

Let go.

And if you need some help in doing that, always remember that the women on our Pastoring Partners Message boards are here to listen, to care, to talk whenever you need us. It's scary sometimes to let go, and as funny as it sounds...we'll hold your hand, while you let go. :)


How's Your Muffler?

 Last week we had some work done on our car.  The tail pipe was knocked loose and fell off.  It’s a relatively simple fix so off to the mechanic my husband went.  Unknown to us the car was not only missing the tail pipe but everything from the catalytic converter. In other words, four pieces that are important to the exhaust system of our car.  Normally you could hear the car coming down the road even when we thought the tail pipe was connected.  When he came through the front door I was in shock.  There was no sound or warning that he was coming home. I was even more shocked at how super quiet the car is driving and how much better it drives now.  It’s absolutely wonderful!

 All week I have thought about the change that the new exhaust system (let’s just call it the muffler) has affected our car and me.  You see one of the main jobs that a muffler has is to “muffle” the noise from the engine as it dispels the waist of the engine as well. Isn’t that exactly what prayer does for us?  Prayer is a muffler.  When we pray we lay before our Lord our concerns and needs. Scripture tells us:
"Be still and KNOW that I AM GOD!" (Ps 46:10)
Prayer acts like a muffler when we lay our burdens down and put our focus on God.  Prayer helps “muffle” the noise in our spirits and helps quiet our souls.  When our spirit is quieted we function a lot better.  How is your prayer life.  I am talking about personal prayer time.  Where you are having a conversation with the Lord about YOURSELF,  no one else being mentioned in your prayers.  The Lord wants us to come to Him, rely on Him at all times.  What kind of noise are you dealing with?  Why not put your muffler into action and quiet that noise!? When in ministry it is so easy to get caught up in praying for others that we forget to just talk with the Lord about ourselves.  He wants to hear from us, about us too.  I have to be honest there have been times that I have been so caught up in praying for others that I put aside the need to just talk to my Heavenly Father on my behalf.  I am sure you have too.  

"Be still and KNOW that I AM GOD!" (Ps 46:10)  Sometimes that isn't always easy, being still that is. But when we take our focus off of the thoughts flying through our heads or the situations we may be facing and solely focus on our Lord the "peace that passes all understanding" (Phil. 4:7) will come and help us be still and quiet before Him.
 



Who can a pastor's wife talk to?


Do you ever get a friend outside the church and and then share so much with them all at once that you overwhelm or even scare them away?

Recently I was talking to a pastor's wife friend I'll call Julie (not her real name) who articulated this so well I thought I'd share what she shared with me here on a PPN post. I am doing so with her permission.

Julie and I were talking about the issue of who a pastor's wife can safely confide in, and the need to have someone to share with. I've found that most pastors' wives crave a safe place in addition to God and their husband, where they can share what's going on in their lives, including what they are dealing with in the church.  Many pastors' wives who have craved a release in this regard have experienced pain when they shared with a church member. Instead of finding the solace their soul longs for, they actually compounded their problems by sharing. This is one of the most painful things a pastor's wife can go through.

Pastors' wives are often encouraged to find someone outside the church, a believer who is unconnected with our particular church, to fill this role in our lives. Sometimes this person is easy to find when you start looking for them, other times not so much depending on the situation.

I find an effective relationship like this to be rare in the lives of most pastor's wives. I have wondered why and recently in my talk with Julie she explained it perfectly. Searching for such a person, she joined a local MOPS group. The friend she found was not a pastor's wife nor a part of her denomination but she was a strong believer with another fellowship. They became fast friends and, having developed trust, Julie spilled out everything that she was going through in the church. Stress and so many emotions had been mounting up with the issues in the pastorate and she needed a place to release them all.  She had been doing so with her husband and in prayer, but she longed for another woman to talk to. One day it all came tumbling out to her MOPS friend...the whole kit and kaboodle of drama she was facing at the church. While the friend was compassionate, she was also overwhelmed, and started backing away. 

Julie's friend lacked the measure of grace needed to handle the weight of situations that she had shared with her. She was shocked, overwhelmed, even stunned by everything that Julie shared. Never before  had she been exposed to this level of an inside view of church and ministry and it was just too much for her to handle once she realized the scope of what Julie was dealing with.

After experiencing this I asked Julie, "what did you learn?" She said, "that only another pastor's wife can really understand the weight."  The truth is that pastoral ministry defies explanation to those outside of it. 

By this post I'm by no means saying that it will never work to have a friend who is not a pastor's wife to disclose these type of things to. Some of you reading might have such a relationship that's working great. And that's awesome! What I am saying is that by all indications it appears that a person who can handle it is rare. Many times we think all we need is to find someone who doesn't attend our church. The fact is, even if they are outside the church they still may not have the grace to handle what you're about to tell them.  What's the point of this post? Proceed cautiously, and consider concentrating your efforts on finding other pastors' wives or former pastors' wives to discuss church issues with.

God gives pastors and their wives a very special grace to handle the weight of the ministry. Chances are there is another pastor's wife in your vicinity that is craving the same release you are. Pray about who God might lead you to. Don't be fooled by someone who seems to have a strong exterior and assume they wouldn't appreciate having someone to talk to. Also keep in mind retired pastors' wives, who are a rich source of wisdom. Many of these ladies are honored to connect with  younger pastors' wives and are just waiting to be approached.

With that said, excuse me while I answer an e-mail from a pastor's wife friend who needs to let go of a weight with someone who can safely hold it.

This Light Affliction


Ladies, I wanted to share this post with you from a few years ago, and then follow up at the end with the changes..... 

Light Affliction


Sitting in my car (seems like God talks a lot to me while in the car) at a stop light. I tapped my fingers restlessly while looking at other people in their vehicles. Thoughts of the past few months whipped in my head. Let's see, we've had four buyers for our house, all of whom have walked away. We have had the house on the market over a year trying to do short-sells. My husband has applied to so many jobs and is constantly rejected over and over, and now we have one month to move out and find a rental home. On and on the thoughts had processed into my mind as I waited and waited at the red light. Why on earth was everything a constant wait, or rejection? That's when God spoke to my heart.


"Jessica, what are you doing?"
"Waiting at a red stop-light."
"Why are you waiting?"
"Because the light is red."
"Jessica, what would happen to you right now if you were to run that light while it's red?"
Glancing up I notice a large semi-truck zoom through the intersection.

"I would have been hit and killed by that truck."


"Jessica, right now you have a destination in mind, and its painful to have to wait. Right now you are at a stop-light not just waiting, but I am protecting you. If you were to run ahead of me, you would be seriously injured. I am protecting you from something far greater than you understand right now."
"Wow, Father, I never thought of that before."
"And Jessica how long do you have to wait at a stop-sign?"

"Not very long."

"But for a moment."
Armed with new revelation, as I went to church last night to work with our college and career students, my husband delivered a powerful message called, "Hanging By a Comma". Needless to say it came out his broken spirit and humble attitude. One of the verses he shared was:

2 Corinthians 4:17 (New King James Version)


17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.


Oh my! God kept speaking...and He has a sense of humor too. For our LIGHT AFFLICTION, which is BUT FOR A MOMENT, is WORKING FOR US a FAR MORE EXCEEDING and eternal weight of glory.

Really, How awesome is God? Although we may desire to be where we know we should be know, until our character and maturity match or vision, we cannot hold it's weight. Being processed in the waiting periods of our lives is necessary to bear the weight of our destination.

Yes, we may not understand this issue with the house and finances, or why everything we have knocked on has come to say no. But for a moment.......

Blessings,

AS OF TODAY:
2010: Our house was taken over by the bank, we filed bankruptcy, sold all our furniture, turned our cars over to the dealership.
2011: Moved into a small duplex, have an awesome Christian landlord, bought a truck with cash. Hubby got a job at the university I work for, then they gave us a van.

2012: Out of debt! Saving! Excited about the future!!!

Its time to listen to God, move forward into your calling, and ask Him what he is teaching you and showing you for your NOW season. Back then I did not understand the process, but now I see how it grew us up, taught us how to depend and trust in God in all seasons, drew us closer together, etc. Those tough seasons seem to last forever, yet it is just for a moment.

Blessings,