Saturday, October 16, 2010

I'm Moving!

I have exciting news!! I have a new address on the web, and I'm loving my new digs.

Please be sure to update your bookmarks to the new address. Also, the RSS feed address is changing to the new address, so you will need to re-subscribe on the new site.

Sorry if this is confusing since my site is fairly new, but after today, I won't be posting on blogger anymore.

Can't wait to see you at the new site! Leave me a comment sometime to let me know you stopped in. I hope you like my new home as much as I do.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I Like My Wrinkles

I am not ashamed to admit that in a few short months I will be turning 30. Now, some of you are thinking 30!? You're young - just wait until you're 50!

What is it with age and our culture? When did getting older become a bad thing? Why are we as women in particular so obsessed with not just our age but looking young?

It started with some "gentle" exfoliants to slough off dead skin cells and "harmless" night creams that plump up the skin. Then it went to plastic surgery, and of course we cried out - No! Plastic surgery is bad! So instead we developed methods where we inject ourselves with plumping chemicals and scrape our skin off with sandpaper to reveal the "young" skin underneath. And I go right along with it.

You know, I've never really worried about getting older - or at least, that's what I tell myself. But then, in conversation with other women, I find myself purposefully making comments about age, like, Well, I'm a lot older than you, so I need to hurry up and have more kids. Of course, older is drawn out so that it's almost three syllables. Or there's the derisive What are you, 23? I used to roll my eyes and disdain these comments! When did I fall into the trap that says God didn't mean for us to age!?

Although I've been wrinkling since I was in my early 20s, I felt so awesome I didn't care. And my family has these baby faces that never look "old" (seriously, my mom still gets carded). Giving birth must have an effect on facial skin, though, because I aged rapidly in the few months after having Samuel. Or maybe it was the 4 hours of sleep I got every day. Either way, I looked in the mirror as a new mom and thought, "Woah. Wrinkles. Discoloring. The Works." And just the other day, I looked in the mirror and noticed my eyelids are starting to droop over my eyes. And it got me thinking, This should not bother me. But it does bother me on some level - and it's absolutely...
  • Not important
  • Not Godly
  • Not Biblical!!
I have to say, I really love King Lemuel's mama. She says a wife "of noble character" is more valuable than precious rubies. This wife is a hard and shrewd worker, she's up all night (got that one down), she's strong but compassionate, she's well dressed (better work on this) - but her clothes are "strength and honor" (yeah, still need to work on that). And mama concludes with:
Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting,
but a woman who fears the LORD will be praised. (NETBible, Proverbs 31:30)

Even worse, focusing on looking young (or thin or pretty or tall) takes away from our true devotion - worshiping God. As a Christ-following woman, I need to be an example to my culture. When other women are talking about being old, instead of joining in, what about reminding them that God created us to age on purpose? Or that their husbands still think they're the most beautiful woman on the planet? Now this is particularly for Christian women who have Jesus at the center of their worldview. For women who don't yet follow Christ, can I be an example? Can I share with my neighbor the struggle I've gone through with this? And that God created her exactly how He wants her? I hope so.

Share in the comments how feeling the need to look a certain way has impacted your spirituality.

Amazing God, You are the creator of beauty. You created me exactly how you want me, and you intended me to age and for my body to change. Help me to reject the lie that says I'm not beautiful in Your eyes - and that I need to constantly be doing something to improve my external appearance. Instead, God, will I open up my soul to you? Will I allow You to scrub off the dead to reveal the newness that You bring? Direct me in this way.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Don't Treat Your Husband Like a Child

When I was ... less mature (ahem)... I had no idea that women were designed differently from men - in more than just the anatomical ways.

Some people will think the differences stem from strictly scientific means (hormones, etc.), but I think that is just part of it. From the beginning, man and woman were created in different ways and for different purposes within their relationship (Eve being created as a "corresponding companion" to Adam).

I say I had no idea, but rest assured, some very good Bible teachers had relayed this message to me while I was in college. I took it in, processed it, and stowed it away in my Very Important Biblical Information file in my brain. I then heard more very good Bible teachers preach on the very same message multiple times in my first several years of marriage.

And then I carried on my way doing one of the exact things I was created to do: Nurture. To my husband.

Right behavior, wrong subject.

So, ladies, you've already pointed your mates to Servant Leaders Are Sexy, now what's our role in all of this? Let me tell you this very plainly:
  • My job is NOT to love my husband.
  • My job is to RESPECT my husband.
Let me also say this, if you're anything like me, You don't know what that means!!!!  I truly thought that if I would just love Brad to death, then he would have everything he needs to thrive as a man. W.R.O.N.G. The reason I truly thought that is because that is what I long for as a woman.

I thought men and women needed the same things (and, you know, we just call them different things). No. Men and women need very different things. I need love; he needs respect. Our community group went through a study based on the book, Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs*, by Emerson Eggerichs. And finally, I started to see what respect really looks like.

Ladies, there are ways you can encourage your husband (or boyfriend or fiance) to thrive in servant-leadership. In fact, even if your husband is not a good servant leader at all, you should still start with respect.

Now I am no expert, believe me (or ask my husband!). My heart here is just to share with you some things that have worked for us. In most situations, ask yourself what would empower your man. In no particular order, here are some suggestions.
  • Your husband is not your child. Do not offer to cut his meat for him. You do not need to ask his opinion on exactly how he wants his sandwich made for lunch; that kind of behavior is belittling, naggy, and makes his seem incapable. I'm pretty sure you already know what kind of sandwich your husband likes anyway.
  • When your husband leaves the house, don't say, "Be careful." He is not made to be careful. He is made to be a risk-taker, a wild man. I just say, "I love you." He knows I want him to come home safely.
  • Pet names: Instead of "widdle widdle wammy poo poo", call your husband by something that makes him feel like a man. I like "My Warrior", "Strong Man". FYI, I do have other gushy pet names, but they do not in any way make my husband out to be a child. E.g., "My One and Only".
  • Trust him. If you're anything like us, and you as the wife is the left-brained one, you might have the tendency to question his every decision. I'm not saying it's bad to talk through decisions together; in fact, I hope you do! But you absolutely need to trust him in some things to give him room to lead.
  • STOP NAGGING. I have never thought I was a nagger, but then I found out that even "gently reminding" my husband of an undone project is a nag and makes him want to check out. Here's the way we work around this. We have a list (yes, you probably have a similar honey-do list). The list is on a bulletin board. When there are projects, big or small, that need work, either of us can put it on the list. Once a week, hubby has a man-check morning. As part of this ritual, he asks himself some questions to make sure he is doing what needs to as a servant leader. One of his tasks is to check the list and make plans towards those projects. I don't have to nag, and he is empowered in his efforts.
  • But DO communicate! We have a monthly "Team Pete" meeting where we discuss calendars, budget, spiritual goals, and anything "big" coming up. This is a great time to discuss things that are and are not working. This isn't the only time you communicate, but it's one big download session that we both mentally prepare for.
  • Don't constantly correct him on how to play with the kids. His ways are different, and it's supposed to be that way. (I hope you know that I do not mean that you should not be unified, but that it's OK for him to be more rough and wild with the kids than you would be.)
Now, I'm sure some of you are much better at this than I am. Tell me in the comments what you do to empower your husband.

*This link is an affiliate link, which means I make a little pittance if you use this link to purchase something at the site. :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I Flashed An Elder

My pastor-hubby and I were invited to dinner at an elder's home the other night. The guys needed to do a little business chatting, and this was a time that worked for everyone.

We enjoyed a scrumptious homemade pizza dinner and the fun company of their toddler and infant. My little man Samuel is 8-months old and quite rambunctious. I mean, he's a boy, what do you expect? So we made our way into the living room to talk, and I was holding Sammy Sam... I use the term "holding" loosely because really he was climbing all over me. I love this about him, but it's more like an activity than a passive event.

One of the things Samuel loves right now is pulling on anything, and boy is he strong. He started pulling on the collar of my shirt, and then all of a sudden, he grabbed my collar and bra strap and pulled. All I know is that I saw myself bared. I have no idea if anyone else saw, but the elder was right across from me. I promptly handed Samuel over to Brad and tried to become one with the couch.

Oh the joys of a pastor's wife's life!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Servant Leaders Are Sexy

This is a post for the guys. And I know your attention span is as long as my pinky, so here it is in a nutshell: Servant leaders are sexy.

So I got your attention, huh? What is a servant leader, you ask? The Candid Pastor's Wife definition is:

Servant Leader: One who leads by serving

Not too difficult, is it? Oh, but it is. 

There is a fine line between servanthood and passivity, between leading and bullying. But that humble and firm example to follow - that is the sweet spot.

It is not easy being a pastor's wife, but one benefit is that my husband has this natural shepherding bent. He craves for people in his care (his family and his flock, if you will) to truly experience the life-changing reality of Jesus Christ. He has to be intentional in all of his relationships... but it's so much easier to be passive. No, actually, it's so much easier to appear intentional. To have several relationships building in the fire, but to then sit back and watch the puny flames instead of stoking the embers.

He knows this. He also knows that Satan loves this about him. And so he fights:
  • To reject passivity
  • To accept responsibility
  • To lead courageously
  • To expect the greater reward
And when he actively does this, I like it! I see him differently. I stop looking at him through my maternal, nagging, let's-steal-the-family-pants lenses and instead start to follow him as he follows Jesus

Let's take our lead from our servant-leader savior:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
 Who, being in very nature God,
      did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
      taking the very nature of a servant,
      being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
      he humbled himself
      and became obedient to death—
         even death on a cross!  (Philippians 2:3-8, NIV)
What does Jesus's servant-leadership lead to? Verses 9-11 tell us the result is that God is glorified.

So guys, follow Jesus in this and lead your families well. You'll thank me.

Eh...gotta go. The hubby will be home soon. =D

Heavenly Father, I'm so amazed by you. I'm in awe of your Son Jesus who is our ultimate example. Would you intervene in our broken culture that says men should not be men? Spirit, empower Godly men to be the leaders you intended them to be - in their homes, in the workplace, and at church. Thank you for my "friend for life" and how you teach him more about leading every day.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Desire Part 3: God Wants Glory

I know what God wants, and it is glory. Does that sound strange to you? Does it sound selfish? I mean, isn't God here to serve me? No. NO. NO!

In fact, He is not here for a reason. HE just IS. But we - we are here for a reason and a purpose.
This alone absolutely floors me. The One True, can't-even-look-at-His-fabulousness God created me because He wanted to! He created you because He wanted to! Wow.

So Why???
  • Purpose: To worship Him.
    • for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him – all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers – all things were created through him and for him. (NETBible, Colossians 1:16)
    • Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he gave the command and they came into existence. (NETBible, Psalm 148:5)
    • everyone who belongs to me, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed – yes, whom I made! (NETBible, Isaiah 43:7) 
    • But truly, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord. (NETBible, Numbers 14:21)
We are here not merely to be happy. But to fall on our knees as we must before Him and to revel in who He is.

I love how John Piper says it, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him."

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of being dissatisfied with the things of this earth. I'm tired of being dissatisfied with religion. I'm tired of being dissatisfied with my idols of comfort and family-worship. I'm going to the throne to find The One who truly satisfies.

Here I am, Lord, dragging myself to You again, empty and exhausted from valuing everything but You. I am humbled to see that You want me! You are my Creator-Father. And You alone are worthy of glory.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Desire Part 2: What Satan Wants

Last time, I wrote about having true joy over earthly pleasures. But my flesh doesn't just desire pleasure - it also desires evil. The flesh in me wishes ill on others. The flesh in me wants things that are not good for me. The flesh in me hopes for the pieces to fall in place so that I can cheat my way out of something. Didn't we already talk about how my flesh wants and wants and wants?

And there is an enemy who loves my flesh and its incessant desires. This enemy is real. His name is Satan.
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8, NIV)
Do you remember Cain? He brought his offering to the Lord, and for whatever reason, it was not pleasing to Him. If you were Cain, how would you have reacted when God called you to the carpet? I would have been embarrassed, upset, and trying to cover for the reason my offering wasn't acceptable. Cain? He got angry:
Then the LORD said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." (Genesis 4:6-7, NIV)
My fleshly desires, if allowed, open a tiny crack for that prowler to stick a toe in. "It desires to have you..." This is what Satan wants. He wants me to slip - to open the door a crack - to let sin takeover for a split second so he can fling the door wide open and clinch me.

Don't miss our good God's subtle mention of grace. He says, "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?" But he doesn't say "If you do not do what is right, you will not be accepted." - No! He says you are in danger. While I let sin creep in and watch my life disintegrate into a fleshly toilet, God is waiting - waiting to take us back into his arms, to lift our downcast face, and restore us.

Come back Tuesday for the last part of the Desire series, and we'll find out what exactly our God wants.

Oh Lord, save me from myself. You have already redeemed me, and that means the enemy can't snatch me out of Your hand. But he does want to destroy my witness to the world for you. Protect me from the lie that says a little sin won't hurt.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Desire Part 1: This Is My Desire

What is your deepest desire? This is a question that was posed to me through Beth Moore's book Jesus: 90 Days With the One and Only. Yeah, I'm reading Beth Moore - don't hate! I'm getting a lot out of this book. Sidenote: The 90 Days has pathetically turned into about 9 months - and it's not over! Sidenote 2: she makes me want to call you "beloved" in my blog. I refrain when the desire hits. :)

Back to the question about my deepest desire. I really had to think about this, but I knew I needed to explore two paths:
  1. What does the "Christian" in me think?
  2. What does my flesh think?
My pat answer is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. And I know deep down that I truly desire that. But I also know there is a lot of flesh in this hunk of human - and what does she want? I wrote down the first thing that came to my flesh-mind: Happiness. This answer, if I were to hear it from someone else, would make me gag. It's so trite, and "isn't it what we all want?" ::Bat eyelashes::

Um...yes, it is what we all want. But I think it takes a different form than what our flesh thinks. My flesh wants a big, professionally-decorated, windows-covering-the-walls, comfy, built-in-espresso-machine-in-the-kitchen house. My flesh wants a free schedule and endless sleep. My flesh wants - and it never stops wanting.

My heart, however - the soul-thing that is connected to the Holy Spirit - wants joy. Joy fulfills. Joy is not dependent on temporary things. Joy overflows from a life that has been redeemed!
Those delivered from bondage will travel on it,
those whom the Lord has ransomed will return that way.
They will enter Zion with a happy shout.
Unending joy will crown them,
happiness and joy will overwhelm them;
grief and suffering will disappear. (NETBible, Isaiah 35:9b-10)
My joy cannot be rooted in things of the here and now - even great things, like my husband, my son, our jobs, our ministries. The joy I want can only be found in our Savior. In pursuing His kingdom and His righteousness. And I'm even more amazed that I won't even know the extent of joy possible until we enter His heaven and are drawn right to our knees.

So, beloved :) - what does your flesh want? How do you remind yourself to find the True Joy?

Stay tuned for part 2 of the Desire series - the desire of our enemy.

Heavenly Father, your truth is always better than my flesh. Thank you for giving me joy that is rooted in You. You know best that I often do not experience this joy because I'm focusing on earthly desires. Align my will to Yours. Let Your true joy overflow in my life.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Anonymous Prayers

Being a pastor's wife gives me a unique vantage point. So often, I allow the lies to creep in that say being a pastor's wife is a burden rather than a blessing. Just view this previous post to see the evidence.

But not this past Sunday. At church, I was talking to a couple during our "question of the day" meet-and-greet time. Someone flanked me with a big hug, and said, "Hi!" I looked over and saw the hugger was a recent acquaintance - I have briefly taught her daughters in children's ministry, and I sat next to her during a women's minstry lecture for about 15 minutes until I had to get my separation anxiety-ridden son and get the heck out of there. So I was a little surprised that she was hugging me so tightly, but I also liked it because I truly love people! I really didn't think anything of it beyond that.

After the service, we were both picking up kiddos from children's ministry, and she stopped me. Kind of unsure, or maybe a little embarassed, she said, "I just want you to know that I've been praying for you. And I'm not really even sure why!" WOW. There it is, folks. Being a pastor's wife just doesn't get any better than this. People just pray for you - for seemingly no good reason! It totally rocks the PW house in my book. Now what this gal didn't know is I NEED HER PRAYERS! Yes, we all need prayers, and I hope you all have people loving on you in this way (if not, let me know - I'll pray for you!). But, pastors and pastor's wives and families especially need prayer. With our lives being devoted to ministry, our enemy would heartily destroy us in an instant. What's more, I can tell when people are praying for me. There are moments that I can sense the raising of a burden, and I know God's power is at work and that his people are petitioning on my behalf. I thank you for these "anonymous prayers".

My desire is that every one of you would be in this battle, too. That you would be daily walking closely with the Lord, and that your words and your actions would be making the name of Christ glorious in this place. And that means you need prayer for this, too.

God, give us all the courage to fight against our real enemy. Make us devoted to You and Your glory. Thank you for your followers who are so selflessly seeking you. Give them endurance to keep their eyes fixed on the author and perfector of our faith, Jesus.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It Overflows

It had been a week since Brad had asked for forgiveness. And I still wasn't budging. Although I had forgiven him in the sense that I love him, can see past this sin, and still want to be friends for life, our relationship had not been reconciled. Reconciliation is about restoring the relationship - coming back to the place we were, overflowing with joy that God brought us together, shouting our family motto, laughing together. There was no laughter. No joy. No shouting - well, the good kind of shouting, anyway.

You see, when God forgives us, we are immediately reconciled to Him.
but now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him (NETBible, Colossians 1:22)
And I did not yet see my husband this way. Instead, when I looked at him, I saw the man who hurt me - who would hurt me again. My hurt personified itself in the cold shoulder, fake smiles, and other curt gestures. I wanted to be restored, and I felt my heart yearning for that true forgiveness, but it just wasn't happening this time.

While I was away at the store, I thought to myself, When I get home, I WILL be joyful. Unfortunately, that's not how it works, and I knew that. You can't muster this stuff up. It comes from the overflow of grace and mercy that God Himself has given to us:
And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation. In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation. (NETBible, 2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
The "ministry" and "message" of reconciliation - that ministry did finally come to my husband, but not because of something I did. I asked God for help. He is the reconciler and the mediator. It's truly wonderful to see how He restores us to Himself and even to each other!

Thank you, God, for the ministry of reconciliation - the restoration that You offer freely through the blood of Christ. I am so unworthy and humbled to receive it. I am even more lowly to give it. I cannot be as magnanimous as You, but I ask that You increase that part of my heart. Let this be a picture to the world of how worthy You are.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Today's Trouble

I have been dying to try these delicious-looking homemade cinnamon rolls. The hubby and I are digging in our heels and really trying to stick to the grocery budget this month. With $47 left for the next 12 days, I thought making these would be a nice, ingredient-on-hand treat for our Saturday morning. I warmed up the cup of milk and threw in the yeast. When I reached into the fridge and saw that I didn't have enough eggs, blood flushed to my cheeks, and I started to feel sick. Why, you ask? Wouldn't it be easy to run to the grocery and pick up a $.99 carton of eggs? It would be, but I chose not to. Among the various reasons was the fact that free-range eggs are more like $3.50, but I also have this sick addiction to beating myself up. I calmly stirred the yeast into the milk, knowing I was about to pour 1 cup of paid-for milk down the drain. The lies in my mind began: Idiot! Why didn't you check the ingredients better? You should have prepped these last night anyway. If only we (or THE HUSBAND) made more money, I would just toss this and try again another time - without a care in the world! How are we going to make it on a ridiculous $47!?

I poured the milk into the sink and left my husband and son playing in the livingroom. I quietly, like the good martyr I am, took a shower and got dressed. While I was in the shower, I was reminded of the lilies of the field and the birds of the air. I prayed that God would remind me of his promise to care for us, and that I, for once, would actually trust him. Once I had a chance to read these verses again, I saw a connection I never noticed before. In verse 25, Jesus tells us
Isn’t there more to life than food and more to the body than clothing? (NETBible)
Like a good Christian, I thought, Of course, we should want to glorify God in all we do, but Jesus spells it out for us plainly. The "more to life" is in verse 33:
(32) your heavenly Father knows that you need them. (33) But above all pursue his kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (NETBible)
Newsflash to Stephanie: God knows what you need! And He WILL provide them for you! Not only that, though. Here's the biggie: If I am spending my time worrying about even the basics of my life, I am missing out on the pursuit of his kingdom and his righteousness - which is what I REALLY need.
For the unconverted pursue these things (NETBible, verse 32)
My Provider, as I sit here making this temporal grocery list and clipping little coupons, You know exactly what I need and how you will provide it. Help me to not get caught up worrying about these insignificant things, or, again, feeling sorry for myself. Instead, show me what it means to really pursue your kingdom and your righteousness. Lead me by Your Spirit.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm Not Supposed To Be Here

I did not sign up to be a pastor's wife. But I knew gals who did. When I was in college, I would ask a fellow chick, "What do you want to do with your major?" To which she would say, out of her utter sweetness, "I just want to be a pastor's wife." What? I didn't know that was a career goal! If I had, maybe I would have thought outside the box a little more about my plans and changed them to, "Independently Wealthy Free Agent."

I hesitate to say my husband was "called to ministry", because all followers of Christ are called in this way:
Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20, NETBible
There was a definite time, though,  when he felt the burden for ministry, as the shepherd feels a responsibility for his flock. And my point is - this was after we were married! Worse, this was in our first year of marriage. I was shocked and sort of upset that he couldn't have made me aware of this before I agreed to marry him! I mean, I do NOT fit the traditional pastor's wife role - at least the caricature I had in my mind. I don't wear makeup every day, and I almost never do my hair. I don't usually wear dresses at all, let alone to church. But I'm also not frump girl. I wasn't sure at this point whether or not I wanted children. I did not see myself saying Hello! to everyone with that lovely pastor's wife smile.

But I could not deny his calling; in fact, I knew it was from the Lord. And when he has accepted to seminary with a presidential scholarship, I had to stop thinking about myself for a minute and instead think about an entirely new calling on our marriage - a pastor and pastor's wife, joined together by God for His purposes. We had already dedicated our marriage to God and knew ministry would be a part of our lives. Now, it would be weaved through our lives in a very unique way.

Now that I have been a pastor's wife for a bit, I feel sorry for these girls who dreamed of becoming a pastor's wife. It is very different from what I thought it would be, and I'm sure it is for them too. My husband and I have hit many snags along the road, but God has seen us through every second and has made our marriage so much stronger by His grace.

God, you have called us with purpose, just as you did with the apostles (Mark 3:13-19), and just as you do with all believers. I thank you for how you are using this journey to teach me more about you. I pray that I would not feel sorry for myself ~ because your will is good and your plan is perfect. Transform me more today into the woman you want me to be.