Monday, August 25, 2014

Dear Grace

An open letter to Grace Driscoll and pastors' wives everywhere.

Dear Grace,

Forgive me now, please. Normally I have my thoughts more well together before I sit down to write. I'm one week into a new semester, math and English homework are taking a toll on my brain. I'm sorry if I ramble or make little sense.

Today is Monday. Ideally a Monday should be a little calmer for women like you and me. Sunday is over. The smiles and the sermons, the handshakes and hugs, the early morning, last minute tasks, and the long afternoon waiting to leave the church parking lot. That was all done yesterday. And so today is Monday and it's a new week. It will be full of new activities, new planning, and new possibilities. But there is room for rest today. I hope you find it.

Like I said, ideally we would expect things to be calmer today because it's a Monday. I don't know how things go for you and your family, but Monday's don't typically slow down for me. They're different, but still just as busy. We're not a mega-church. In fact, we're just about as opposite from being mega as you can get. We're a young church plant (remember those days?) and we're actually in the middle of inheriting an older congregation to replant within our young plant. It's been full of amazing developments, lots of exciting moments unfolding, a LOT of hard work, and God moving right before our eyes. Birth and rebirth. It's all truly amazing and it's all for the glory of God. (And it's why we do what we do. The long days are worth it, as exhausting as they are.) So today I have reports to file, and lessons to plan, schedules to make, media to put together, and cleaning to wrap up. We're small, and we have few hands on deck, so the work load is heavy. But the blessings are abundant even though it all wears me out.

Ministry life for ministry families... it just gets hard sometimes, doesn't it?

Grace, I'm writing you this because even though our lives as ministry wives may be completely different, they're also all too much the same. Sometimes in ministry we face mountaintop moments. Things are smooth, lives are changing, and the kingdom of God grows a little bit bigger under our watch and care. Sometimes we're in a valley. The sun has set behind the mountains, clouds have rolled in. It can be pretty gloomy in the valley. Sometimes that big, strong man - the one we not only get to call pastor, but also have the blessing to call husband - sometimes he faces trial like nobody knows.

Or sometimes everybody knows.

It's hard to scroll through my homepages and newsfeeds today. I honestly can't say that I know what has happened. None of us on the outside, no matter how many sources "reveal" information, actually know what happened. It's none of our business. But it's still hard to watch the stories be published. My heart hurts for you, for your children, for your husband. My heart hurts for your ministry.

You see, while I may not know what it's like to be in a mega-church, I do know what it's like to feel protective of my pastor husband. I've seen my Bradley criticized and attacked. And that hurts. It hurts because I know him. I know his heart for this calling. I also know that he's imperfect, just like the rest of us. He has such a heavy load to carry. He's charged with the care of his flock and the care of his family. He has meetings and visits to make. He has studies and sermons and more studies to write. He has good days and he has bad days, just like the rest of us. Sometimes my protective nature rises up just because I feel like those in his care don't appreciate him and all he sacrifices. Sometimes it rises up when I see people talking through his sermon. Those are petty responses, they're things that result in me repenting and asking God for renewal to serve and love as He's called us to do. I just know that my Bradley gives so much of himself and sometimes it bothers me to think that it goes unnoticed. Imperfection runs rampant around these parts. Now, sometimes Brad falls to the flesh and he makes a mistake. I've never seen that not result in an apology, but just the same, somebody hurts as a result of his sin. And sometimes he doesn't make any mistake but still somebody gets hurt. And even then he apologizes, because he only wants to serve God and serve others. That's the heart of a God ordained pastor. But apologies don't always fall on open ears or open hearts, regardless of fault. And that's where the criticism starts. That's where the attacks begin. People we see as friends so easily turn against us. Rumors can spread like a wild fire. Sometimes we put up walls, because it's almost easier to be lonely in ministry than feeling the hurt when friends fall away.

Ministry is hard. We're just these imperfect people trying so hard to tell others about our perfect God. We can't compare to Him. But we hope, even if just for a moment, that those we love and are called to serve will know why we do what we do. It's not about us. Goodness no. It makes for a glass house life, and nobody wants that.

I can't know exactly what you're facing today. I don't know if you're feeling protective, or hurt, or lonely. I don't know if you're walled up or letting those you trust most lift you up and encourage you through this trial. But what I do know is that there is no way that I'm the only one who aches for you, who feels a burden to pray for you, who knows the pain of seeing my pastor husband hurt. I hope you are encouraged. I hope that Christ is giving you all you need to to encourage your husband and your children. I pray that your church family is rallying around you, in support and care.

In your time of trial may you find rest. In your time of trial may you feel His overwhelming comfort. In your time of trial, above all else, may God be glorified.

Much love and so many prayers,

Monday, August 18, 2014

Enjoy the silence

I've been pretty quiet here lately.
But things have been anything but quiet.
Lots of changes and transitions and adjustments. Lots of hard work, sweat, and some tears. All good. All for the glory of God.

The short story:
We received a phone call inquiring on our interest in the "acquisition" (for a lack of better words) of a church into our existing church family.
We went on a much needed family vacation. (Pictures? Maybe sometime in the future.)
We came home to a vote for churches merging. (A resounding yes on both parts.)
We've been busy building on the legacy of said church merger, renovating, cleaning, moving, gently embracing new members of our family. It's important to honor those who are coming in, honor tradition, but not lose sight of the vision God has clearly laid before us.

And all of this while life continued. Kinks here and there, cars that won't start and bills that need paid. A dear friend undergoing surgery and her babies that need an extra kiss because mommy just can't hold them the way she longs to. Errands and birthdays. Family members that need an extra hand. Ministry projects and trips and retreats. Long hours at work, at church, at home... and cheerleading, for the love of mercy, cheerleading has started. And now, school. We're still schooling the younger three at home. 10th grade, 7th grade, and 4th grade. The oldest begins college. And I return to college.

It's been a little busy. I've had an idea here and there of things to share, but at the end of the day when things have settled - honestly - the last thing I want to do is write. I just want to rest. And so that's what I've been up to. Resting when the moments come, though brief and few and far between. Resting for refreshing and strengthening. Preparing to serve and stay on mission. Resting for recharging peace. Enjoying the silence. And it is good.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

And He Calls Me Beautiful

There's this struggle I have at times. Insecurity. Inadequacy. Incomplete. It often comes out in feeling like I need more from him, from my Bradley. We go through the routine dance of where I come up short and where he comes up short and where neither of us feel like we can do enough. I express what I need and he does the same. The last time this played out wasn't too long ago. You don't do life with someone for nearly two decades and not find yourself dancing this dance at times. Life is good and full of joy and seasons of delicate, unblemished happiness. Life is also rough and full of sticky seasons of wear and weakness.

So we danced the dance. There was a lot was shared, resolved, and put to rest. One of the things that came to the surface was his need for me to receive his affirmation. You see, I have this need as his wife to hear him say to me those sweet whispers of adoration and admiration - the kinds of things that make me know what I already know, that he longs for me. That he finds me lovely in any and every way possible. But this wasn't just about me needing to hear those things. This was about him needing me to hear those things. To REALLY hear those things. Breathe them in. Receive them into my heart from his heart. Because, as much as I hunger for him do this, I have this destructive pattern of rejecting what he says. My precious husband will lay over me sweet whispers of love and adoration, and I brush them off. I blow them off. I come up with reason after reason why I can't accept what he is saying, even though hearing him say those things to me is something I want so desperately. And so, we're working on this. He's sharing more of these sweet whispers from his heart, and I'm breathing them in. Accepting them as truth. Because no matter how I may see me at any given moment, he still loves me finds me beautiful.

Now, this struggle, it isn't just isolated to my marriage relationship. This struggle of insecurity and inadequacy likes to try and take root in my walk with Christ. I see who I am, who I've been; Filthy. Thief. Promiscuous. Liar. Idolater. Adulteress. Unsightly. You name it, I claim it. And I find it hard to embrace those sweet whispers of my heavenly Father.

Why do we do that to ourselves?

And really, when I get honest with myself, when I'm stuck in the torrent of feeling like I need more from my husband, that's not what I really need at all. What my heart is really needing is to brush off these lies, push through the mess that they leave all around me and just sit in the stillness of my Savior. I still hunger for that affirmation from my Bradley, but when I really breathe in how Jesus sees me... there's nothing like it. Because in Him I'm Clean. Vindicated. Pure. Honest. Redeemed. The Bride of Christ. Beautiful. He whispers it sweetly over me...

He calls me beautiful.

He sees beyond who I was and who I am. He sees who He created me to be. I can't always see that - I don't even fully know who that is! But He does. And I'm in process of being perfected. And His truth, sweet whispers, fall over me. Cleansing me from the inner depths of darkness. Lifting me out and lifting me up. And that is where true power lies, in Him who saw me, saved me, and loves me perfectly. He's what I really need. So I find power and rest when I REALLY hear those things from Him. Breathe them in. Receive them into my heart from His heart.

Now, that precious husband of mine, he is a gift here and now. I love him. I thank God for giving me this man to do life with. But what I REALLY need is Jesus. What I really need is to lay in the sweet whispers of His truth.

He calls me His and He calls me beautiful. He's all I need.