Friday, February 7, 2014

View from the Back Row

Christmas Sunday, 2012, we had just left our home church of 20 years and we were sitting in the back row of a church where our close friend was the lead pastor.  We were hurt and broken.  We arrived just early enough to drop our kids off in class and secure back row seats, but not so early that we'd have to talk much.  It was such a strange feeling, on this busy Sunday, to sit with no responsibilities, no tasks, no one to catch up with.  We were edgy - we felt we should be doing something.  But we stood for worship, sat for service, picked up our kids, and then left, with barely any conversation.

You look at things differently when you're in ministry.  You count the number of people in the room.  You notice what software they use to run their worship slides.  You see the light that is burnt out and needs replaced.  You read the bulletin critically (plus, I'm an editor, so I look for typos as a past time).  You analyze the announcements. It's hard to turn off "ministry mode." It's hard to not jump up when something needs done.

We spent almost a full year sitting in that back row.  We were welcomed by amazing people.  They embraced us, but gave us the space we needed.  Eventually, we shared our story.  My husband became involved - leading worship, helping on teams, preaching periodically.  I remained in the back row - no responsibility except dropping my kids off at their classes.  I worshiped and cried many Sundays.  I healed in that back row.  It was an oasis in our desert.  A place to quench our thirst.

I am so thankful for that row - that church - that community.  It was good to rest - to attend church - and to just "be."  As hard as that year was, I see now that it was an important part of our journey.  We needed the rest.  We needed the time to process and heal.  And we needed to be ready for where God was taking us.  We didn't know where, and we didn't know when, but we knew that God had plans for us back in ministry.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Permission to Say No

My first series in the blog Reset is all about permissions.

Early on in my journey as a youth pastor's spouse, I felt I had to do it all, be everything to everyone, all with a smile on my face.  I was broken inside and exhausted.  I learned from some amazing women in ministry that it really was ok to say, no, and that for my sanity and the sanity of those around me, I needed to say no more often.

So, today, I give you permission to say, no.

You can say no:

  • to volunteering for another committee
  • to attending another event
  • to the staff member who needs you to just do one thing
  • to working in the church nursery
  • to running the girls' ministry
  • to attending the concert
  • to taking a meal to someone
  • to helping with VBS
  • to even being a volunteer in the youth ministry
  • to anything that adds stress to your life
  • to ANYTHING you don't feel God calling you to do

We so often feel that we need to do everything that is asked of us, especially in the church setting, but guess what - you can say NO!  Saying yes to everything is not healthy and you need to set boundaries for yourself, for your marriage, and for your family. 

It is OK to say you need to think about it.  Take your time, they do not need an immediate answer.  And it's OK to say no without giving any explanation.  I know, sweet sister, we want to explain all of our reasons and make sure who ever is asking something more of us knows that we have really, really valid reasons to say no, but guess what, you don't have to give any of them!  You can simply say no, I'm not able to help at this time, and then be quiet.

Try it - even in something small.  Baby steps!  

Do you find it hard to say no to things?  Share your stories in the comments. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Refresh, Restart, Reset

My heart beats for youth workers, especially those of us who are also married to the guy (or girl) up front leading youth ministry.  I've written off and on for this blog for some time, but it's been inconsistent and sporadic. But today is a day to refresh, restart, and reset.  Watch for regular posts, themes, and most of all a connection point for those of us Married in Youth Ministry.

The "in" in Married in Youth Ministry is intentional - we're not just married to the youth pastor, we're in this journey too, no matter what your role.

Restart: Part of this restart is taking the focus off of me and my writing and life.  You'll still get my stories and writing, but I also want to add some new writers, share other stories, and make this more of a community.  If you're interested in joining the team, leave a comment or send me a message.  I'd love to brainstorm and collaborate.

Refresh: Ah, don't we all need some refreshing moments on this journey in ministry.  I want this to become a place where you find a breath of fresh air.  A peaceful place where you find hope and peace.

Reset: This is the word God gave me for this year.  I'm focusing on resetting many areas of my life and this blog and writing are one of those areas.  I'd love your input on what you'd like to see on the blog.

I'm excited to get started.  I have posts waiting and I'm looking forward to this fresh new journey with you!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Networks - Do You Have Them?

We had a crazy situation recently where we ended up in Chicago unexpectedly.  It was in the midst of an already hectic week of travel and I'll be honest, we needed friends quickly.  We were six hours from home and alone.

I sent out a bat signal (yikes - I've been married to Jeremiah so long that I'm now making comic book references in my writing). 

I posted on Facebook in two private networks that we're a part of that we needed help.  In minutes, we had over 100 people praying for us and local friends contacting us.  We had a pastor friend at our side in 30 minutes and four offers of houses to stay at and rides to wherever we needed.  Overwhelmed with gratitude and love is an understatement.

I'm so thankful that we've spent time building relationships in these networks.  One is an amazing group of youth pastors that have walked our crazy journey with us.  Another is an amazing group of pastors' wives.  Both are groups online and are literally all over the world and have been an amazing support system through our journey and recently in a time of need. 

Are you a part of a network outside of your local church?  Who would you contact if you needed help out of state?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

UnWired Mom - a challenge

I'm taking a challenge from Sarah Mae to be an UnWired Mom - this isn't an "the Internet is evil, stay away from it" challenge.  Instead, it's a challenge to make your time online intentional - to break the addiction and instead be free.  My goal is to not let the Internet master me - but to use it for the tool that it is.  Anyone want to join me?  Post in the comments below.  Here's a link to the challenge.  It's started today, but it's not too late to join!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

So What Now?

If you've followed our journey or read through this blog, you know that we are not currently in youth ministry.  So, why on Earth would I continue writing here. 

Well, here's why:

1. We're still called to youth ministry and when God provides the place, we'll be back in full force.
2. My heart and passion is for ministry spouses.  I've been through some dark places as a ministry spouse and I want to offer support, love, and joy to other spouses. 
3. Even though we're not in a ministry at the moment, we're still involved in teenagers lives.  We believe strongly in "doing life together."  And just because we're not in an official role at the moment, we're still pouring into teens.
4. We're still involved heavily in the youth ministry culture.  Again, this is where we're called to be.

Some visions I have for the blog:
Personally, I'll continue sharing my story.  I also want to start involving other youth ministry spouses.  If you're in ministry or know someone who is, please contact me!  And, I'm also planning to start interviewing ministry spouses and share their story here.  If you're interested, let me know.

Is there something you'd love to see in this blog?  Please share!

And, since this is my little space on the World Wide Web, I'll still share Sarah antedotes and things going on in our lives too.

Thanks for continuing this journey with me!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

I'm back!

Hi!  I'm back!  Did you miss me?  It's been a season of change and growth for us - I can't wait to share about it.  And we have big news coming soon (and it's not another little Isley for all of you who immediately jump to that conclusion).  I'm looking forward to catching up with everything!