Category Archives: Help I’m now a pastor’s wife!

How well do we support parents?

I recently attended a day at a nearby church focused on equipping Christian parents. Whole families were able to go, and the organisers did a fantastic job of keeping our children engaged and excited about the activities they did while we had teaching and discussions.

I was really struck by one of the questions we were asked:

“What is the best piece of advice you have been taught about parenting in church?”

We were then given a few moments to discuss it with the person next to us.

Those of us sat together all said the same thing – we couldn’t think of anything we had been specifically taught about parenting on a Sunday morning (apart from the few comments preachers had given about what they’ve learned about parenting from their own kids and their own mistakes). This made me wonder: how intentional are our churches about teaching and equipping parents?

To read the rest of this article please click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Discipleship, Help I'm now a pastor's wife!, Leadership, On marriage, On parenting

A journey of faith

As I’ve mentioned before, our church is in the process of buying the lease on a council-owned building. We’ve been in that process for over three years now. It has been a long, hard road…

It started with what seemed like a miracle. We were given the heads up about a community hall that is based right in the centre of the borough we meet in. And then, amazingly our (now retired) pastor was offered it at an incredible price (they were almost giving it away), he shook hands and walked away believing we had just acquired a home for our church.

You can imagine the celebrating that Sunday! We couldn’t believe how, after quite a few months of searching, that God seemed to have delivered something straight into our laps. What a blessing.

Then we heard back from the lease owners to say they had decided to open the process up to others. What seemed like premature celebrations ceased and we started to wonder why this had happened. And, of course, some of us doubted whether it was the right building. We also had comments from some of our members asking why on earth did we need a building anyway?

What followed was an intense period of fervent prayer and nail-biting waits. We lost out twice during bidding processes, pipped to the post at the last minute with bids only just above our own.

At the end of each of those processes we should have been automatically disqualified, and yet both times (praise God!) we were invited to continue on and bid again with an ever-smaller group of bidders. Finally, after an interview process where I was suddenly asked to help pitch (yikes that was scary), we were picked to be the next leaseholders.

I have to admit I have found the whole journey incredibly emotional. It has stretched my faith almost to breaking point at times. I can still remember the sinking feeling I had when we found out our first bid hadn’t been enough to secure the lease.

The very next morning I was at a women’s breakfast and I can still remember thinking “I don’t want to go. I don’t feel strong enough for all the questions there will be, all the disappointed faces. I can’t get my own head around it, I certainly can’t carry anyone else.”

To read the rest of this piece please click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Being a woman, Discipleship, Help I'm now a pastor's wife!, Leadership

Life is short…

Memorial services are great for bringing perspective.

I recently attended one for a dear guy who, at one stage of our lives, was extremely instrumental in our continuing faith journey. He was the first small group leader we had in the church we attended more than 20 years ago. We’ve since moved on from that church, moving home to help start another church in a nearby community.

What shocked us about this situation was that his death was sudden – and he was so young (just four years older than my husband). So there we were, a group of people that had come back together from various corners of the country to celebrate and acknowledge the life of this unassuming man who had had an impact on us.

He had been a somewhat clumsy, awkward guy, but so friendly and gentle. Everyone who paid tribute to him recognised those qualities. But they also talked about his absolute assurance of the truth of the gospel. Although a scientist, he had had no problem marrying his faith with scientific fact, and his faith had been the stronger for it.

As I sat listening to people speaking that day, I suddenly heard a gentle whisper:

What would people be saying if it were you? How would people describe you?

I know that the word ‘gentle’ would certainly not be among the words used. Unfortunately that’s not a natural character trait for me…

But would there be the things I would hope for, such as: kind, loyal, honest, authentic, faith-filled, inspiring, encouraging? Or would there be, as I suspect I’m viewed as currently: over-busy, stressed, aloof, overbearing, difficult to approach, emotional?

I know I’m overstating the case somewhat, but sitting there that day made me take stock:

What is it I’m investing my time and efforts in, and are they worthwhile?

To read the rest of this post please click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Discipleship, Help I'm now a pastor's wife!, Leadership, On marriage, On parenting, Suffering, Worship as a lifestyle

Never lose the wonder…

… That was whispered to me, ever so quietly, this morning.

My husband had taken the kids to school and I was determined to curb my natural desire to get on and tackle chores and work emails before work. Determined to have a bit of ‘you and me’ time with God.

It wasn’t long, after the overflow of song in my heart had subsided (I would call myself a musician – of sorts – so there is usually some song or other bubbling up), that God spoke that little phrase.

There wasn’t anything else. Just a flow of peace, of affirmation. And those words, again and again.

“Never lose the wonder.”

I was reminded of how He had been trying to get through to me in recent weeks. It was while I was editing a fantastic new book by Carrie Lloyd, in which I read about that quiet voice speaking to her in her ‘secret place’. I have always enjoyed little moments throughout my day in which I’ve heard God communicate with me like that, but I suddenly realised that it had been a while since that had happened. I was really taken aback – how had I not noticed?

Do you ever get to that point?

You are so busy doing things for God, that somehow you miss Him completely?

Well, maybe not completely – you can point others to Him, feel His presence in corporate worship and bring words and scriptures for people, but actually your own close relationship with Him has somehow gotten disconnected.

To read the rest of this post, please click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Being a woman, Discipleship, Help I'm now a pastor's wife!, Leadership, Worship as a lifestyle

The weight – and joy – of leadership

Have you ever wanted to just hide away and not go to church? That’s how I felt on Saturday evening. The thought of getting up early in the morning and speaking to dozens of people, of worshipping God even (yes, it was a low moment) and of feeling the responsibility of needing to be stood next to my husband in the front row all weighed heavily on me.

I just needed a break.

I’m sure I’m not alone in this – and I know it is right to take time out at times.

But one of the burdens of leadership is living by example. And just hiding under my duvet when I don’t feel 100 per cent is not setting a good example. So I shot up a quick prayer asking that God would refresh me and I was immediately reminded of the Sunday before.

On that day, I was suffering from such severe back pain that I hadn’t slept all night. I was playing the main instrument in the worship team and we had a visiting speaker from Nigeria, who we were hosting a lunch for after the service. On that particular Sunday the whole of me was screaming “It isn’t fair! Why should I have to carry on? Why can’t someone else do it?”

To read the rest of this post, please click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Being a woman, Discipleship, Help I'm now a pastor's wife!, Leadership, Suffering, Worship as a lifestyle

Why do we always want something different?

On Friday my two new books are published. I am taking a moment to celebrate that fact – to thank the editor who asked if I would like to write them, and to acknowledge all the hard work it took to put them together.

Learning with F21_Prayer Learning with F21_Jesus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But it also makes me long for the day when the book I have burning within me makes it out of my heart and mind and onto the bookshelves. You see, so far I have four books under my writerly belt. But each one I was asked to write. The ideas did not originally come from me. Yes, I ran with them, developed them, put my all into them – but they don’t feel like they are quite ‘mine’.

I also look around at the Christian non-fiction authors who have huge followings, bestsellers and sell-out tours. I look and wonder – will I ever get anywhere close to that? And does God even want me to? In the times when I get frustrated, I have to consciously take my eyes off of another’s path and focus on my own. Because God has called me to walk out my own life, not someone else’s.

God really challenged me recently. I was considering whether I could feasibly take on the leadership training that I had been offered. So often we are told to look at our priorities, to check where all our time goes (yes I’ve previously written about doing a time budget – we got partway there!). I know that working parents will probably relate to what I’m going to say next: most of the time I feel like my whole self is being simultaneously stretched in at least four different directions.

Writing and editing make up my ‘job’, but I also believe they are part of my calling. I also know that first and foremost I am to love my God above everything and everyone – and then my husband and my children. I also now have a deep passion for those who attend our church. I want to see them reach their full potential, walk free from those things that have bound them and be all they can be. I am also fired up by worship and long to see people engaging with God in new and creative ways.

And yet so often I feel like I’m only just scratching the surface with each of those areas. That I’m just treading water rather than taking ground. I wonder whether I’m selling people short by not giving more – but then I know that, realistically, I haven’t got any more to give. So how can I take on anything else? But then that quiet small voice whispers to me, encouraging me and telling me it could be the one thing that equips me to serve others better, and gives me the time to actually stop and check my priorities.

To read the rest of this post please click here.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Discipleship, Help I'm now a pastor's wife!, On writing, Uncategorized

My response to God’s Not Dead

Last week I went to see the film God’s Not Dead. I’m not going to go into the details of the film too much, or review it here. Suffice to say it is a film that doesn’t shy away from speaking out many truths about our faith.

Based around a debate in which a college student is challenged to prove the existence of God by his philosophy professor (an atheist), there are also other stories interweaved that show some of the ways in which Christians have to speak out about their faith.

As I sat there I wasn’t sure how to respond. I’ve seen quite a few Christian films recently, and I have to say that, overall, I find them fairly cheesy. So, for me, this one was less so. However, although the acting was well done I felt many of the characters were underdeveloped and I squirmed at the clichés. Nevertheless, as I sat there, wondering what those I had gone with were thinking, I was struck by something…

To read more, please click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Help I'm now a pastor's wife!, Leadership, Worship as a lifestyle

Changing our perspective

I had a dream last night. The details are fuzzy but it took place at a book launch. I was listening in to two women’s perspectives on the food being laid on. One wanted to make more sandwiches. The other said it would be a complete waste of food and there was no point cutting any more loaves. The first thought that the food could go to someone who needs it if it wasn’t all eaten at the launch. While she was frustrated inside, she relented and left the loaves alone…

A little later I was lying awake listening to my husband snoring. For me, after we’d both woken up at 5am, the sound of his snoring was intensely irritating. However, I didn’t dare move him to try and stop the snoring as I knew that he’d had night after night of waking around 4 or 5am and then not being able to get back to sleep. So, although I was desperate for more sleep, and everything in me was fighting the urge, I was trying to see things from my husband’s perspective and leave him in peace.

The Easter holiday was another test of me seeing things from others’ perspectives. It was also a time to try and teach my children to do the same. After a fraught last (half-term) holiday, in which I juggled too much work with trying to spend time with the kids, I had made the decision not to work as much in the Easter holiday.

For the rest of this post, please click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Discipleship, Help I'm now a pastor's wife!, Worship as a lifestyle

Celebrating mothers – and my mum in particular :)

mum and ClaireAs we approach Mother’s Day, it felt appropriate for me to focus on motherhood – and the huge impact our mothers have on us. When I wrote about International Women’s Day, which we also celebrated this month, I spoke about what a privilege it is to be a mother to my own daughter, but what a challenge it is to bring her up in today’s society too.

I’m so grateful for the wisdom of the other women I have around me – who not only help me when I’m in those ‘tearing my hair out’ moments with my kids, but who also challenge me and push me not to settle for the mundane status quo. They continually urge me to seek hard after God and His purposes for my life and not to allow my insecurities to stop me from being all God wants me to be.

Those women include some great, close friends within my church, who I simply couldn’t cope without (hence I view them as God’s gift to me) as well as those I’m privileged enough to work with within my Christian publishing career. As women I think we often do a brilliant job of supporting one another. I mentioned in a previous post too that my sister also often ‘tells it like it is’ to me – while we may not see each other that often we speak words of truth into each other’s lives, and we know we are always there for each other.

Today, however, my focus has got to be on the one woman who has not only influenced me the most but also inspired me the most too: my mum. What a testimony she is to a life of faithfulness in the midst of suffering.

To read the rest of this, please click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Being a woman, Help I'm now a pastor's wife!, On parenting

Learning to be vulnerable

Our church is currently doing a preaching series based on Phil Moore’s brilliantly provocative book Gagging Jesus: things Jesus said we wish he hadn’t. Last Sunday my husband preached about sexuality and what Jesus said about it. We looked at sex within marriage (how different a starting point we have to our society on this subject), same-sex attraction, lust, adultery and pornography. Possibly not the most usual material for a Sunday morning sermon! And yet how important.

I was struck about how little we Christians talk about sex (and in our small group during the week so many people said they are saddened that the Church doesn’t celebrate good sex). We also don’t like engaging with the ‘hot potato’ issues such as porn or homosexuality. And yet what does that do to our churches? They are so often places that are rife with hidden sins – but why? I was leading the worship times before and after the preach and at one point I heard myself saying, ‘Church is full of sin because we are all too scared to open up and admit our failings. And so often when others do we judge them. Shame on us. Shame on us for creating an environment where no one feels comfortable enough to be open.’

Shame on us, also, for allowing sins to go on either undetected or unchallenged. Of course this isn’t just about sexual sin, but every other sin too (another point made in the preach). What about anger, bitterness, gossip, fear, making money an idol etc? Every single one of them takes us further away from God. Surely the point of being part of a church family is that we are able to walk closely with those we see regularly (I’m not saying we should be shouting our sins out to the whole congregation!). We are there to support but also confront our friends when necessary. But that isn’t going to happen if no one is willing to take off their ‘I’m fine’ mask and be real.

To read the rest of this post please click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Being a woman, Discipleship, Help I'm now a pastor's wife!, Leadership, On marriage, Worship as a lifestyle