Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Year in Review (July-December)

Wednesday I started a look back at the year 2010, with the idea that with the perspective of time, we can often be grateful for situations and circumstances that at the time created stress and concern. Here's a look at the final half of the year.

—God showed up in the middle. In the middle of the year, in the middle of our lives, in the middle of Texas, in the middle of the country, IN THE MIDDLE, life changed for us. After 26 years of full-time service in local church ministry, God directed us to something new. Russ resigned the pastorate and joined me at the communications firm. This necessitated a move out of the parsonage. Where does a couple live when they both work from home and can live wherever? We asked God to show us, and after looking over several options and towns, we had complete peace to move to Brenham, Texas (smack dab between Austin and Houston—another MIDDLE). That led to a whole new set of questions. Where should we rent? Where should we worship? What about recommended doctors, butcher, hair salon, restaurants, etc.? We pared down our belongings to "must haves" and let the rest go to charity. Mayflower picked up what was left and moved it for us. How fitting—we felt like pilgrims in a new land and Mayflower was our ship of choice!

—God taught us we can't provide for ourselves all on our own, we must wait for Him to provide, and in the waiting room of life, there is always room for more learning. Just a couple of weeks into the move and I landed in the ER for bronchitis/pneumonia. My lungs were officially welcomed to my new surroundings.
After about 30 phone calls with potential clients, with a proposal written for each one, we waited for God to bring in the clients. And waited. In the mean time, God showed us where to worship, and we became part of the Champion Fellowship family. We didn't know a single soul in town, but that was only a temporary problem after coming to Champion. We joined a home team and other small groups and soon learned the names, faces, and hearts of new friends. We stayed busy with projects, but certainly needed to know some extra cash would be coming in soon. One August project was writing a book proposal and sample chapters with co-author Rhonda Rhea. Now we are shopping it around to find a home with the right publishing house.

SEPTEMBER—God used reversals as a teaching tool. Before my big September event, Mom came to visit us in our new surroundings. One of the perks of living here is that Mom is only 5.5 hours away. She came for some Master Gardener training nearby, and we enjoyed a good visit. She traveled home and I traveled to Houston to fly out to Kansas City to serve as apprentice on faculty for CLASSeminars. It ended up quite different than what I expected or planned for. An hour after my arrival, having settled in to the hotel room, I twisted my ankle and did a major number on that foot. It swelled to Fred Flintstone proportions and kept me from getting to do some of what we had planned. It was quite an ordeal and I ended up in physical therapy for a while, fighting the resulting reflex sympathetic dystrophy that developed. This forced me to cancel speaking at CLASS Christian Writers Conference in November, and led to more waiting on God to provide, since I'd missed the conferences where I normally pick up clients and referrals. It's starting to sound like a theme, right?

OCTOBER—God held off just a bit more with provision, just long enough for us to be okay with whatever came our way. Okay if that meant learning to say "Welcome to Walmart." Okay if it meant a completely different way of life. Okay if it meant redefining the services we offer with KCWC. Just okay with "whatever." True contentment. And funny when that contentment surfaced, so did the provision necessary so we could continue without finding outside work!

NOVEMBER—God stretched my wings. Three big highlights this month. I recruited new friend Amy Weaver to assist with table hosting for a local fundraiser for Faith Mission—Candlelit Christmas. We designed the table and chair decor, the dessert menu for itty-bitty yummies (which also served as our 2 tiered centerpiece), and decorated for the big night. The program was a big treat for me, made extra-special shared with friend Erin Eddings. Another great experience was going through the Jonah study with the Tuesday Night Ladies Bible Study group. Thanks, Hope Batchman, for leading it! And another highlight of the month was sharing Thanksgiving with Leno and Mary Yellott, and their family. This was our first road-trip after moving to Brenham. New clients came to KCWC and we started looking forward to 2011.

DECEMBER—God blessed me with a sense of stability. He built our clientele and provided for our needs. Makes me think of the song, "In His Time." This month, often known for celebrating Christmas and family and for looking into the New Year, ended the year right on schedule, having fulfilled all its duties.
I was invited to speak at the Ladies Christmas Banquet at church, and that put me in the Christmas spirit. Mom came to spend a week with us, and just having her here also made it seem more like Christmas. Russ and I spent time evaluating the year and praying about new developments for the new year. And we received peace of mind that it was the right time to plan for a home here in Brenham. So as the year came to an end, we enjoyed the most stability of the year, looking forward with anticipation to what is to come. Sometime in June we'll have a new home built and ready to move in. And we have new clients to serve. Starting in January we'll make arrangements to get out speaking more too; Russ filling pulpit for churches and me speaking for special events. It took a while to get to this point, and we certainly haven't "arrived" by any means, but we're ending the year with a greater sense of stability. It doesn't seem like we will have to punch the panic button after all! And you know what? God knew that all the time.

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Year in Review (January-June)

For this last week of the year I'm looking back over 2010. What does a "Grateful Gratitude" list look like from the perspective of 365 days? It's fun to look back to where I was, ahead to where I'm going, and right now to where I'm at. Reflecting is a good place to be. Living in the moment of certain 2010 circumstances, I didn't have the benefit of hindsight. But now, with just a little bit of time passing, and a lot bit of God working on my heart, I can see with a different perspective, and can offer a YEAR IN REVIEW—Grateful Gratitudes.

JANUARY—God flooded me with fellowship. Much needed heart-bonding. I opened the year with our student ministry activity. A new friend entered my life. Jordy. The Link Family came to sing/play at our church, and we renewed our friendship with two Link generations. We toured the Rio Grande Bible College and enjoyed time with the staff there. I traveled to Florida to be the retreat speaker for Word Weavers and enjoyed time with the entire bunch. It was great to stay with host Cheri Cowell and to finally hug (in person) my long-ago writing mentor, Laurie Barker Copeland. Lots of heart conversations and brainstorming happened in January.

FEBRUARY—God redirected my path. CLASSeminars invited me to consider starting the training process to join their faculty. My first official event in this training capacity was the CLASS reunion in Palm Springs, CA. I enjoyed getting to know the others, and co-teaching with Linda Gilden.

MARCH—God stretched me. My business required more intensive skill, more consult calls. Just MORE. And my everyday life situations caused me to dig deeper with my faith walk.

APRIL—God became even more real to me. The Easter service was extra special—a woven blending of music and message, seamless reflection of the price He paid for me, of the power of His resurrection, of the hope found as we anticipate His return. I served on faculty at Quad-Cities Christian Writers Conference and while there God's presence was evident in manifold ways. A "random" drawing selected Robin Steinweg to receive a special grant from my communications firm, but what I couldn't have known is that God was directing our steps to knit our hearts in an extra-special friendship. I got to attend worship with my sister-friend, Twila Belk, and soaked in an incredible day of sharing life stuff. I found out that my longtime assistant, Gina Stinson, needed to give resignation notice, and we both cried at the thought of this separation. She stayed on through our KCWC staffing transition and I remain grateful for her faithful service over the past three years.

MAY—God nudged me to step out. When our May Tea was canceled, I was disappointed. I'd put my heart and soul into planning the event over the past year. But I knew it was the right move. After the cancellation, an opportunity opened up to go for more CLASSeminars training. How obvious that God was moving me to work with this wonderful organization! I roomed with Gerry Wakeland, and had Betty Southard as my mentor. Wonderful to have two new godly women in my life, for such a time as this! It also became obvious that God was preparing our hearts for a move. He allowed doors to shut and other doors to open. Difficult times in the moment, but looking back with the perspective of hindsight, I can be grateful for His direction.

JUNE—God reminded me to write plans in pencil to allow for last-minute "life" adjustments. I served on faculty with Write-To-Publish. What an incredible writers' conference! Thanks to Lin Johnson, Joyce Ellis and Jane Rubietta for bringing me in to share with the attendees of the Career Track. After the conference, I met family for a reunion in MO and while there we were called back to Texas prematurely to bury a man we greatly loved and respected. What didn't happen was the rest of our family vacation, my participation as emcee at the AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association) conference, or attending the International Christian Retailers Show in St. Louis. Not going to those events caused me to miss out on the new clients I normally pick up for the year. We had just signed a lease to rent a home in Brenham, TX as Russ was to come on board with my KCWC firm starting in July. We were (and are) certain God directed the change, but with the canceled conferences, all of a sudden with the wheels in motion, all the security blankets were pulled away and only one thing remained—trusting God for our future.

(Friday I'll post Part Two, July through December, 2010)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Today's Message: God With Us

Today, Pastor preached a Christmas message from the book of Matthew. What stood out to me was just how important it is that God came to be with us. Immanuel. Jesus put on human flesh, yet remained sinless to pay the debt we could not pay. But this year, Immanuel means more than the fact that God came to Earth in the form of the baby Jesus. This year, I make it more personal and more of a day-to-day gift than the gift of salvation. Not just God with us. God with ME. God with YOU. What does it mean to me to know that God isn't just in Heaven, but He's here helping me, talking with me about normal and important stuff, nurturing me. And it's not a one-sided relationship—He loves hearing from me. He walks with me and talks with me and tells me I am His own. Immanuel. God with us.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Technology and Christmas Merge—What Fun!

I just have to share North Point's iBand Christmas Music presentation, showing off the modern technology of iPads and iPhones. No real instruments. I'm not saying "let's throw out the instruments we know and love." But I am saying "this is fun!"

Click on the photo above, sit back and enjoy 3 songs for your listening and viewing pleasure!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Top 10 Skills for PWs During the Holidays (wink-wink)

Top 10 Skills of a PW During the Holidays

by Kathy Carlton Willis

Said pastor’s wife must:

1. Recreate the First Nativity, in life-size scale, for a silent witness in the parsonage front yard.

2. Incorporate the Twelve Days of Christmas into her baking and gift-giving schedule, taking special care with the partridge in a pear tree.

3. Live green with the motto of recycle, repurpose, reuse. Start by repurposing the silver tinsel as kitty dental floss.

4. Create a Christmas card list to include every church member, visitor, “used to be” members, and “meant to be” visitors. Being clairvoyant is an added skill set for this requirement.

5. Create a cookie recipe for each day of the advent calendar, ready for parsonage pop-in guests at any time of day or night. It’s highly offensive to serve day-old cookies to the president of the lap quilt guild.

6. Have a gift-wrapped present at the ready for any impromptu exchange, so that gift-bearers do not leave empty-handed.

7. Stock up on gifts that look impressive but cost less than a cup of coffee. (Regular, not Starbucks!)

8. Keep in mind every dietary restriction of every church attendee. Recipes should be gluten free, diabetic-friendly, lactose-free, low fat, low carb, yet high in taste. On a pastor’s salary.

9. Have a different party outfit appropriate for every holiday invitation between Thanksgiving and New Years. Can’t duplicate what anyone else is wearing. On a pastor’s budget.

10. Be willing to drop everything to be available for every beck and call from lonely members, fighting couples and stress-filled moms who need a listening ear during the blues-humbug of the season.

Come read the rest of this post over at the original spot. The Pastor's Wife Speaks. It includes real tips to help you enjoy the holidays without pulling your hair out.

Monday, December 06, 2010



For some reason, holiday gratitudes pack a more potent punch than everyday appreciations—not sure why, other than my heart is already warmed up and excited.

Here’s my list:
  1. I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak and sing for a Christmas Banquet last week. I had so much fun with that program, and it was a huge blessing to me to have ladies waiting to talk with me afterward, so we could love on each other in a more personal way. Encouragement, counsel, motivation, inspiration, laughter, building up, sisterhood. All good!
  2. I’m grateful for facebook, to get to know new people quicker than possible in person. There’s only so much I can learn about a person when we go out for a beverage for an hour. But interacting on facebook several times a week reinforces what I’ve started in person, and takes us to a closer friendship, quicker.
  3. I’m grateful for a comfortable bed. When nothing else is right, when everything that doesn’t hurt, doesn’t work, my mattress set and sheets envelopes me in warm fuzzy comfort.
  4. I’m grateful for words of affirmation. Gary Chapman would say it’s my “love language.” All I know is, when I get feedback, I feel more secure in my plugged-in position of life purpose. I’ve had feedback this week that I’ll save in my mental affirmations file for future reference whenever I begin to doubt myself.
  5. I’m grateful for music. Sometimes when words can’t penetrate the fog of my heart or mind, music breaks through and speaks to me. Puts me on the right path. And it doesn’t take long—instant transformation!

Friday, December 03, 2010


God showed up big-time at tonight's Christmas Banquet! But let me back up just a bit. A few weeks ago I was invited to speak and sing for the Ladies Ministry banquet. I've enjoyed the preparation process.

Then of course, this week drained me with unrelated disappointments and challenges. Fatigue set in. I was spent before it ever started!

At lunch I rehearsed the song for tonight (Point Of Grace's "All Is Well"). It reduced me to a puddle, yet at the same time—spoke to my heart. So this afternoon I spent time praying and resting, asking God to continue to empty "me" out and use me however He deemed best.

God has never expected me to be on my own when I speak or sing. He's not only "with" me, but when I'm yielded to Him, He's flowing through me. His reflection. And that's what happened tonight.

He blessed me with the ability to recall the points of my message when the words were sort of swimming on the page, so I could speak from my heart with just a few brief peeks at my notes. Not only that, but He gave me a couple of new examples/illustrations as we went along that surprised even me. One will stick with me and probably develop into a complete program sometime.

But God didn’t finish with the AMEN. Oh no! He also breathed me through the song to close the program. I was concerned the song was too simple to be effective, but obeyed His direction to use it. The song was perfectly fitting. Father knows best! The impact of the entire evening was staggering.

Then God continued the blessings by bringing ladies up to talk with me. One after one they shared from their hearts. It was a combination of all the things that make me happy:
  • fellowship
  • ministry
  • encouragement
  • counseling
  • connecting
  • building friendships
  • edifying

And did I mention, “NEW FRIENDS!”

And new ministry opportunities.

I'm reminded again why I love being called to speak and sing. I witnessed light bulbs going on above heads all over the room as the words spoke to hearts. It was then that God whispered to me, “Kathy, why aren’t you doing this more? Be open to new opportunities for 2011.” That’s exciting.

I am blessed. So blessed. And basking in the afterglow.

Monday, November 29, 2010



Gratitude List as I Look Ahead:
  1. So blessed to have friends and family who feel close even when they are far away. Thankful for technology to keep us up-to-date with each other. Never at any other time in my life have I enjoyed interacting with so many. Grateful to renew old friendships through e-mail, facebook, blogs, and more.
  2. Grateful for the legacy others have left behind even though they've gone on ahead. I get reminder flashbacks all the time. Special memories of Dad, grandparents, cousins, Mother-in-Love, and more. Today I saw a picture of an evergreen and candle centerpiece and had a flashback of the years Mom and Dad wired me this flower arrangement for a combination birthday/Christmas gift. It graced my table as I entertained various groups for the holidays. Such a special idea (Mom—thank you for making it happen!).
  3. Love the gift of "anticipation." This is going to be a great week, and I can't wait to get this party started! Bible Study through Priscilla Shirer's Jonah study, Ladies Christmas Banquet, great clients to serve with projects to dream up, and more.
  4. Grateful for the opportunity to help others. Anytime that happens, it makes me feel better inside and out. I need to be aware of even more of these opportunities and avail myself to them. Made a meal Saturday for a family, and even though I was feeling rough, it soothed the physical pain to know I was helping out a family in their time of need. It's possible it blessed me even more than it blessed them (especially since my cooking wasn't stellar!).
  5. So glad for a helpful husband. Russ brought home a few groceries this afternoon. I wasn't even expecting it—he just did it. Enough for us to have a meal, and to have a few extras. Even my favorite diet soft drink—he noticed I was all out. What a guy!

"Developing a true attitude of gratitude means inviting our heavenly Father into every aspect of our lives—including thanking Him even in situations we don't like.

"Thank You, Father, for being with me."

"Thank You, Father, that somehow You will bring Your good out of this mess."

And, yes, it's okay for us to stay that with tears running down our cheeks. He understands our hearts. And we do not pray to air."

— Sandra Aldrich

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Gratitude List

This isn’t just a Monday Gratitude List. This time, it’s a Thanksgiving List. When I look at how life has changed in the last year, I’m counting my blessings for:
  • I’m grateful for a place to live. The thought of not having shelter is a scary thing, and just a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t certain we’d be able to afford the rent much longer. What a relief to have work come in. Security!
  • I’m grateful for new clients. Not just provision for bills, but rewarding work to do. Fulfillment!
  • I’m grateful for settling in to a new town. Finding new friends. A place of worship. Community!
  • I’m grateful for a loving husband who would take me to the moon and back if that’s where I wanted to go. Intimacy!
  • I’m grateful for a God who loves me. Who wants me to commune with Him. He listens when we talk. Security, Fulfillment, Community AND Intimacy!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Boundaries and Borders

I've been thinking a lot about boundaries and borders this week. Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend wrote
Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Life. It's obvious Christians often confuse the lines when it comes to what we allow to happen in our lives. We're supposed to live yielded lives with a focus of God and others before self. When does that yieldedness turn into a doormat? The Bible says we are to love others as we love ourselves, so are there times when our love for self requires us to say "no" to prevent us from burn-out? We are supposed to be willing to "go the extra mile" for others. What happens when they want TWO miles? What happens when we are feeling spent and taken advantage of? If we go the extra miles do we wear out our soles? And our souls? Three issues came to the surface just yesterday to cause me to evaluate this delicate balance even further.
  • What do I owe my clients as far as my time? When is it okay to be unavailable because it's family time and not work time? When is it time to tell them "poor planning on your part does not necessitate an emergency on mine"?
  • When someone wants a piece of me that is not theirs to take, how blunt do I have to become before they comprehend they have asked too much of me? Some say I'm "too nice" and because of that I encourage others to use me. I'm trying to balance "serving-it-forward" with saying "no" to create appropriate boundaries. Not because it's all about me but because I won't have any "me" to help others if I'm no longer effective. I guess it's a lot like having to put the oxygen mask on myself before I help others place their own oxygen masks (taken from a flight attendant spiel.)
  • When is it time to seek legal counsel to represent my best interests? Health insurance won't pay claims related to an injury—subrogating responsibility to the hotel that was negligent. The hotel insurance will not assume liability, piling on more paperwork and using intimidation tactics to bury me in details so I'll give up. Medical providers are sending notes saying "pay or else." I do not like working with attorneys, to be frank, because my past experience has proven they ramp up the hours and end up being the only one getting anything from a lawsuit. But I also know we have zero monies to pay these medical bills. I'm praying I can find an attorney who will take my case for a percentage of the win, rather than a retainer. I can't believe I'm at the point of needing to seek counsel. I would rather be Mrs. Nice Gal.
I want to always be available for what God has me to do. Serving Him. Serving others. I don't want to become hardened by circumstances and jaded by users. I'm praying I continue to learn how to create godly boundaries, only excluding from my life what God leads me to exclude, and letting in all the other stuff, even if it takes a big chunk of me in the process. Not a doormat, but a door-tender.

What have you learned about setting boundaries? Share your tips and your dilemmas here. Maybe we can help each other along on this journey!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

JONAH: From the View of a Child

Watch this amazing child tell the story of Jonah. Talk about an actress in the making!

The story of Jonah from Corinth Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

No Greater Joy!

"He's serving as a deacon in his church."

That's the news we heard about Craig Long, one of the first teens in our first student ministry. Not only was Craig all grown up and serving as deacon, but he was blessed with a full family, married to wife Carol (also from our first youth department) and parents to their precious children. To make our joy even more complete, we discovered they lived just 75 miles away. The Longs came to my husband's very special ordination service to give a few words endorsing Russ to the congregation. It was a magical night. Craig and Carol, I'd love to reconnect!

Speaking of reconnecting, just recently I found a young girl from a previous ministry on facebook. Not so young anymore, she sported photos of a new hubby and baby, and a brand new nursing degree. Beautiful—this one! April came to me as a child so we could talk about her terrible nightmares. It was something we shared in common. She must have been 8 at the time. To fight the fear, she started journaling and memorizing scripture. I'll never forget how proud I was when she stood in front of the entire sanctuary to quote a full chapter in the Bible. She knew there was special power in God's Word. It got her through a rough time.

I smile every time I think of Easter that year. She was just learning about the Christian faith, and had lots of questions. She'd ask her mom and grandma, "Is the Savior going to be at church on Sunday?"

They'd reply, "Yes, April, the Savior will be at church. He's everywhere."

She got frustrated the more they assured her because it was obvious they didn't understand her question, so finally she blurted out, "No Grandma. Not Jesus. Is Savior WILLIS going to be at church on Sunday?" Pastor—Savior. I can see how that would get confusing! Certainly gave Russ a bit of a boost, and all of us a smile.

But nothing could prepare me for the joy of today. You see, today when I checked my facebook updates, I read that April had given a devotional Bible lesson for her church ladies the other evening. Little April, all grown up. Not just physically, but spiritually.
The Bible verse I share at the top of this post says it so well. There really is no greater joy than for me to hear that those I've mentored, my spiritual children, are walking in God's truth. It's times like this that God nudges me and says, "See Kathy. It's worth all the frustrations and suffering and pain of this life to point a child in the faith to learn of Me. To know Me. To trust Me. Don't give up. Keep shining the light so others can see the way."

By sharing this story, I pray you also realize that you are making a difference, and you can continue to make a difference.
Can you think of the ones who made a difference in your life? Why not leave a comment sharing their names? Let's all show thanks for those who impacted us when our lives were at the crossroads. Shaped us. Compelled us to choose right and to love the Lord. We get to serve it forward—and be blessed with no greater joy!

Monday, November 15, 2010


Here's my gratitude list for the past couple of weeks:
  1. I'm blessed by the beautiful decor and touching program of Faith Mission's Candlelit Christmas Banquet. So glad to be a small part of it, and looking forward to next year. Even more, praying Faith Mission raises the funds necessary to finance all the good they do in our community.
  2. So glad for fleece when it's cold. 'Nuff said.
  3. Indulging in homemade when the norm is store-bought. A special unctuousness that elicits nostalgia. Comfort cozy.
  4. I'm grateful for e-mails and facebook connections to bond me with friends all over the world. This is not just surface stuff. In fact, I think sometimes it strips away the casual and gets to a deeper level sooner.
  5. Mobius coffeehouse. Love my nearby hang-out.
I'm finding a theme surfacing here—comfy cozy warm and fuzzy, whether it's socks or my heart, all these things bring me to a special place. Thankful, me. Blessed to the rim.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Come on a WHIM (See, Giggle, Share!)

Come read my article over at The Pastor's Wife Speaks. Today we're talking about funny stories that happen when we're at speaking events. I share a couple of mine and offer a giveaway drawing for others to share their stories. Come see. Come giggle. Come share.

It's all over at: The Pastor's Wife Speaks

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

JONAH: Week One

I just completed Week One of Priscilla Shirer's study book Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted. Tonight our study group meets at Champion Fellowship to discuss what God's been showing us through the study, and to watch the video for the next lesson. I'll be facilitating a small group during this study, and am looking forward to the interaction. Here are some key points from Week One.

Day One:
Insignificant Person + Insignificant Task = Interruption
Significant Person + Significant Task = Divine Intervention

How do I view interruptions in life? Are they an inconvenience? Do they cost me time and money to stop and do something not in my plans? What if I viewed them as gifted to me from God to accomplish His bigger purpose?

I find we all have the potential for significance, not from anything within ourselves except a choice we make to allow God to work. Which leads to Day Two.

Day Two:
"God doesn't need us to complete His purposes, yet He still chooses to ask us to partner with Him...Believing that divine interruptions are a privilege not only will cause us to handle them differently but also to await them eagerly." Page 17

Divine Intervention + Yielded Submission = Eternal Significance

When I think of yielding or submitting to God, I think of merging on to traffic. They have the right of way. I must stop and look and use all my senses and then join the flow of traffic. Just like in life. If I'm to yield to God, I have to stop what I'm doing and stop going in my direction at my speed, and merge to His direction, His speed, His wishes.

Day Three:
How will we make our mark—make a difference—for the Kingdom? It's when we come to an end of ourselves and put God's agenda ahead of our own. It's not about my resume or my abilities. It's about my availability to God's leading. And through this yielding, it is God who is writing my story. And He knows how it's going to end!

Day Four:
The real star in my story—just like in Jonah's story—is God. He's the One who makes the difference. Page 23 says, "...having a fresh view of Him is paramount if we are to begin believing that life interruptions are really divine interventions."

I see that God IS the boss of me—He is the owner. I'm merely the manager. We haven't been asked to be in charge of our lives, but to make sure the boss' wishes are carried out by overseeing the implementation of His instructions.

Day Five:
Sometimes following God makes no sense, but His ways are not our ways. They might even sound ridiculous, like some distorted dream. But His instructions are very real and when we act on what He says, we are showing trust and faith in His plan. Our feelings and thoughts can sometimes lie to us and confuse us. By being focused on God's Word we can have a true measure of what is right (through the Bible and through the nudges of the Holy Spirit as well as from instruction through wise counsel).

Monday, November 08, 2010

Worry and Prayer

I love what The Message says about worry and prayer. Check it out:

Philippians 4:6
Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

James 1:5

If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who "worry their prayers" are like wind-whipped waves. Don't think you're going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.

Friday, November 05, 2010

A Style to Dye For

Ever endured one of the dreaded "bowl" haircuts while perched on a stack of books atop a kitchen chair? Mom managed to perform several of those, especially on school picture day. In my mind I was a pleasant little girl, sitting ramrod straight, but I'm quite certain that in the real world it was next to impossible for Mom to get me to sit still long enough to cut the straight line required for those school-girl bangs. I do remember a couple of hair salon visits in my childhood, but those were rare. At times Mom brought home a Lilt permanent to torture my hair (and nostrils) just a bit more. You see, we often had to make do with what we had.

Imagine our joy when Aunt Minnie began to apprentice as a hair stylist at her sister's shop. Finally I could sport the latest hair-dos! I became a living practice mannequin for Aunt Minnie. Shag haircut? Mine. Dorothy Hamill's wedge, yep. French braid, perfect for Senior Awards Ceremony. Soft curls for my wedding day. And later, we newlyweds sported matching bi-level unisex styles (permed curly on top, straight and short on bottom). Aunt Minnie started my love affair with hairstyles. Just one more way to express my personality and style—like changing jewelry.

Color came next. My hair hasn't known the hue of its base color since 1995. I say my hair is chemically dependent, but I'm not ready to go in for rehab just yet.

I've had home cuts and perms. Been to Barber School and Beauty School. Even been blessed with some expensive salon experiences (sometimes complete with sticker shock). And now that we are back to the basics, I'm doing my own color again.

Today, after 8 weeks of neglecting my hair, I finally ran down to the Continental Hairlines shop for a nice (reasonable) razor cut. After a trip to Wal-mart, I brought home a new kind of hair color. Two-process. Now I can have my color, and highlights too!

I'm not sure why I procrastinated this for so long. It feels great to be back in the "hairstyle" saddle again. No more tears.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

I'll Never Be a Famous Singer

Yesterday while riding the exercise bike at physical therapy, I watched music on TV. Not my pick—but the music drew me in. I think it was a country music video channel. I noticed the striking beauty and youthfulness of the celebrities. Each singer was model-like; stunning really. But what hit me even more than their style was their age. All were about half my age (and half my weight)!

I used to want that life. Be a singer. Do concerts. Record songs. Not to be a star so much as for music to be a big part of my life. I love the harmonies. The lyrics and chords move me. I would have especially loved to be part of a group because joining voices and instruments together is the best.

But God had other plans, and I've loved my life. No complaints! It's just it hit me. At my age, the dream is over. I'm never going to be a "singer." I can still do lots of new things in life that aren't affected by age or looks.

As soon as the thought hit me that I would never be a singer, a second thought hit me. "Not in THIS life." But the exciting thought is that in eternity, guess what I'll be doing? SINGING! And can you imagine the lyrics and tunes lifted up when we get to sing praises in front of our King of Kings? It's going to be thrilling.

I better stay in practice. Just in case.

Life Interrupted

Last night I attended the first session for a Bible Study entitled Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer. I have to admit I would never think a study of Jonah would be something I could relate to. I obey God. I've made some extreme directional changes in my life because He said so. But over the past month two or three people said that my crazy 2010 life sounds like what Priscilla writes in this book. It's all about seeing the interruptions in life NOT as inconveniences to our agendas, but as divine appointments. God is getting ready to do something and we need to pay attention to see what it is.

The description of this study says:
What do we do when God interrupts our lives? Many times, like Jonah, we run! In this 7-session Bible study, Priscilla redefines interruption and shows that interruption is actually God's invitation to do something beyond our wildest dreams. When Jonah was willing to allow God to interrupt his life, the result was revival in an entire city.
I'll fill you in on what I discover during this journey!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Grateful Gratitudes


“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” Anthony Robbins

For several years, I've participated in a weekly gratitude sharing exercise on an e-mail loop for those with Sjogren's Syndrome. We've found that an attitude of gratitude really helps put life in better perspective. Every Monday I try to collect a list of small and large blessings for which to express thankfulness, and it's been a wonderful practice to develop. Here's my list for this week:

  1. The praise team led my current favorite song during worship yesterday. "Beautiful Things." My how that song (lyrics and music together) lifts me to a higher plane.
  2. We were able to pay first-of-the-month bills even though we had some financial reversals this past month. Can't explain it except that God provided for our needs.
  3. New recipes helped us save money, but gave us fresh new flavors for our taste buds. Double good!
  4. We are seeing some improvement with my physical therapy. Two of the six motions for range of motion are getting better. I'll take what I can get, knowing the rest will respond over time.
  5. I'm blessed to get to encourage some really special writers and speakers. Many are just at the beginning stages of setting this up as a business/ministry rather than a hobby, and it's so fun to see them blossom. Talk about getting me jazzed!
What's on your gratitude list? Feel free to leave a comment to mention yours. You'll feel better for it!

Overheard on the Subject of Love...

Overheard on the Subject of Love...

"Dear Lord, thank You for loving us. For BEING love."
— prayed by Worship Leader Jason Morgan during service.
That's right! God doesn't just show us how to love. He doesn't just love us. He IS love. IF we looked up "love" in a LIFE dictionary, we'd see God. So when we have love issues, where do you think we should go? Dear Abby has NOTHING on our Lord!
"They say the Top 3 gifts are faith, hope and love. When we are in heaven, we won't need faith because we'll see Jesus with our own eyes. We won't need hope because our hopes will be realized. But oh! LOVE will still abound. And that is why the greatest of these is LOVE."
— in Pastor Tim Webb's message today at Champion Fellowship.
My prayer for this week is that I will think more about selfless love and how to display that to others. May I have the heart of God to have the love of God, with the eyes of God to see the ones who need the love of God, and the arms of God to reach out to those who need the love of God, delivered walking with the feet of God.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sabbatical Almost Over!

In July, Russ and I moved to a new town, a new life—a new start. Each day since our decision to move has been filled with a crazy tug-of-war, delivering good news and bad news. I stopped most optional activities to focus on the necessary elements of our new beginning. So this blog took a bit of a sabbatical. I'm looking forward to returning in November—maybe sooner. So, be on the lookout for new posts, coming soon! Thanks for your patience as we took this break to regroup. We'll be coming back stronger and refreshed.

Friday, September 10, 2010

On a WHIM: New Article for Pastors' Wives

I have a new post over at The Pastor's Wife Speaks. I'll be writing a monthly column for them, and would love for you to support me over there as well as share it with any pastors' wives you know.

Here's the logo for it:

Here's part of it:

Hide and Don’t Seek?

Do you arrive early for church, only to wish you were invisible so you could avoid the verbal assaults from well-intentioned (and not-so well-intentioned) members? Here’s the scenario: Mrs. Crowder always has a prayer request. Those I can handle. Then Mrs. Berry hunts me down with a message for my husband because she doesn’t want to bother him, but he really should know that the microphones weren’t loud enough last week and the music was too loud and the people in the back couldn’t read the screens. Mrs. Tina comes running out of breath because the bathrooms are out of toilet paper and it would be easier for me to restock them than for her to do it—she needs to get to Sunday School class early to make sure she hears all the gos—er—I mean prayer requests. Then Rachel quizzes me on the spirituality of the recent youth activities and speculates that we’re just entertaining them and not winning souls. Tom pulls me aside to tell me that he can’t make it to a board meeting, and he’d rather not tell my husband personally—could I please relay the message for him. On and on it goes. People with criticisms, rumors, tasks, excuses, and the occasional prayer request.

For many years I could fake it when the demands made me weary. I just put on a smile, took a deep breath and continued on my way. Sunday’s only one day a week, right?

But then...
Read the rest of it HERE.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Man Named Cec

June has been designated as Cecil Murphey Appreciation Month, and he's come to my mind several times throughout the month. You can go to his website to read his official bio and hear about his 100+ book titles. CLICK HERE.

I want to tell you why he's special to ME.

Cec didn't know me from Eve, yet from our very first time of meeting, he has encouraged me. He listens to me and asks my opinion on issues, like what I think MATTERS. He teaches by showing me through example, rather than lecturing me. I can watch the way he lives each day to learn about the industry, about matters of faith, about life.

Cec shows me the importance of paying it forward in life. When God blesses (and He does!), rather than hoarding it, it's time to share those blessings with others. Not just finances, but time, and talent and other resources. Cec isn't the typical philanthropist. Yes, he donates funds to all sorts of worthy causes. But more than a monetary philanthropist, he's a philanthropist of the heart.

Here's how I know that--he writes me and asks for me to send him updates, and says he's praying for me. Not just at that moment. He prays for me DAILY. I must admit, I'm not even sure *I* pray for me daily! Do you realize just what a gift that is? He knows so many people that if he prayed for them all daily he wouldn't have time to do anything else. So his gift of time in prayer for me is the most generous thing he has ever bestowed upon me.

Cec isn't all bubble gum and cotton candy inside. He's got some grit about him. He dubs himself the curmudgeon. I think that's what I like about him. He's the real deal. He's genuine. He doesn't try to be something he's not. And he brings out that same transparent quality in others he mentors.

One time I spelled Cec's name wrong and he called me on it. I typed "I will spell Cecil Murphey correctly" 100 times and sent it to him. We both smiled. And you can guess—I never spelled his name incorrectly again! He has an "e" in his last name, and don't you forget it!

I am blessed to be one of the MANY who knows Cec Murphey. The man with a heart (AND a smile) as big as Texas!

(Kathy Carlton Willis)

To read a current interview with Cec, by SORMAG, click HERE.

Friday, February 19, 2010

FIRST Wildcard Tour: You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes!

I confess. I collect books written for pastors' wives. There aren't that many out there, so it's not a huge collection. My oldest one dates back to 1942 entitled, The Pastor's Helpmate. So, when I had the opportunity to review this new book by Lisa McCay, I jumped at the chance. Of course, the title was my first hook. Before my foot surgery, my philosophy about shoes was, it's the one thing that stays the same size, so enjoy shoes to express your personality. And the subtitle also grabbed me--And Other Great Advice from an Unlikely Preacher's Wife. I'm an unlikely preacher's wife, so this book was for me!

The book should be required reading for all women married to the ministry. It shows what real life is in the ministry and how to endure in the good times and the bad times. Lisa endorses every pastor's wife having a life. A life with friends. A life with family. A life pursuing passions. A life pleasing God most of all rather than attempting to please all the people all the time.

Lisa's transparency helps her story and advice ring true. A dose of reality with a spoonful of humor helps the medicine go down.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes

David C. Cook; New edition (February 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings of The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***


Lisa McKay and her husband, Luke, serve at a thriving church in Alabama. Together they are happily – if not always properly—raising three rowdy boys and one dramatic girl. In addition to being a wife and mom, Lisa is also a popular conference speaker.

Visit the author's website.

You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes, by Lisa McKay from David C. Cook on Vimeo.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434767264
ISBN-13: 978-1434767264


My Husband’s Calling is My Calling Too

Many are the plans of a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.—Proverbs 19:21 (NASB)

I once had an interesting conversation with a woman whose husband had enrolled in seminary to prepare for ministry. “He can take classes all he wants, but I didn’t sign up for the preacher’s wife thing,” she said. Since she didn’t believe her husband would actually follow through, she went on to tell me she planned on humoring him until the day his calling affected her. And if that day ever came? Well, she’d just cross that bridge when she came to it.

He is still in school. She is still in denial.

Around that same time I attended a pastor’s wife conference that included a panel discussion at the end. Lined across the stage, five women in different seasons of ministry shared the thing they found most difficult about being married to a minister.

I’ll never forget the response of the youngest woman. She was the mom of toddlers and was obviously distressed. “The hardest thing for me is everyone wanting a piece of my husband and not acknowledging me in the least,” she said. “I feel like the person in the background who is only here to take care of the kids so he can be free to take care of everyone else.”

I was grieved by her raw response. All I wanted to do was wrap my arms around that girl and assure her she had it all wrong. That she was an integral part of her husband’s ministry. That her calling in that season was her children. That no amount of public success possibly mattered if her heart and home were in shambles. The sad thing is that I’ve met many more like her in the past fifteen years during my own life as a minister’s wife. If anything, this has intensified my desire to embrace and encourage women whom God has charged with supporting the men He has ordained to proclaim His Word.

The fact that I just typed that last sentence still baffles me. You have no idea how surreal it is for me to be writing this book. There are many of you reading who have been Christians as long as you can remember and always knew you would marry a preacher. Many more of you grew up as the child of a minister and swore you would never marry one yourself, only to find yourself eating your words. Some of you have pursued callings to various vocational ministries and met your mate in college, seminary, etc. Some of you married men who were already serving in the church. However, based on my blog surveys, a lot of your serene lives were turned inside out when your husband experienced God’s call to ministry some point after you were married.

And then on the lunatic fringe are girls like me whose life and marital background weren’t exactly résumé worthy.

A Match Made In Heaven?

My husband, Luke, and I married young. I was a mere eighteen and he a strapping twenty-one. Can I just be honest and tell you there were never two individuals any more needy or any less likely to be serving behind a pulpit?

I always cringe when we run into old high school friends. The question of what we’re doing now always comes up, and there is one response that we can count on when we share that Luke is a pastor—after the laughter dies down, that is.

“Luke, you are a preacher? And Lisa? You are a preacher’s wife?! Okay, joke’s over. Now what are you really doing?”

We would be offended if we weren’t just as baffled.

I forgive our flabbergasted friends because I can’t hold their excellent recall against them. They remember the dangerous combination of the wild boy and the bitter girl whose marriage was tumultuous at best. Surely, the future they envisioned for us was set in a divorce court rather than a sanctuary. They were within days of being absolutely correct.

There is no human reason why Luke and I should still be wed today, much less serving the body of Christ. Even though we were not yet believers, our union started off well enough. But we soon faced the heartbreaking yet all too common reality of many young couples: The stress of working different shifts, having more month than money, and living the separate lives that developed in the midst of it resulted in our parting ways and filing for divorce two short years after the ceremony.

I despised the not-yet-preacher, and the truth is I loathed myself as much as him. We had hurt each other in a million ways, and all I could think of was getting away and starting over. We were within a week of our divorce being final when one night I received a bizarre phone call from him. He told me he had started going to church and wanted us to rethink what we were doing.

I went off the deep end! I spewed, “So you are turning into a religious fanatic—and you think that is going to fix everything?” I was so full of hate and bitterness, and it still makes me blush to think of all the horrible things I said to him about his newfound religion. He continued, very patiently, to call and tell me he was asking God for a miracle as the clock ticked toward the day our marriage would be legally over.

One night during the critical week before the divorce was final, I had gone to bed, still convinced divorce was the only answer. For some reason, I woke up around two a.m. and the tears began to flow. I missed my husband so badly I could barely lay there. I remember thinking, “What is wrong with you? You cannot stand him! It’s almost over, just hang in there.” I realize now that voice was Satan’s, bent on thwarting God’s plan for us. If you ask me how I know prayer works, or how I know God can turn a cold, black heart into one that can feel love, laughter, and joy (Ezek. 11:19), I will point you to that night because it is the one that changed everything.

I called Luke the next day. One conversation led to another, and we called the lawyer to stop the divorce proceedings. I tentatively moved back home with him, and we began visiting churches. I was still not very thrilled about the “God thing,” but I knew for some reason I wanted my husband back and this would play a part. Would it ever!

One night soon afterward, my hubby came to me in our living room and told me he had just prayed for salvation. He’d gone to church his whole life, but it was only at that time he truly accepted Christ as his Savior. I grew up in a totally different denomination, so this Baptist way of doing things was a little traumatic for me. I was glad for him, but I still wasn’t so sure what that meant for me. For personal reasons, organized religion held no real appeal, so I was very afraid of how having my husband become so radically different was going to affect me and our life together. Seemingly out of the blue, I began having feelings of not being good enough for this new man, and shame over my own sin slowly entered my heart.

For me, salvation was not a lightning-bolt experience but rather an intellectual process at first. I needed to understand it. 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the message of the Cross is foolishness for those who are perishing but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.” I know the Spirit of God enabled me to believe what I was hearing because obviously I could have still walked away a scoffer. We were attending my husband’s childhood church, and the pastor became a dear friend and mentor to us both. He started a small group in his home, and I was able to ask all my questions in a very nonthreatening environment. That man was very patient with me as I asked everything from “What does ‘once saved, always saved’ mean?” to “When do you think the rapture will happen?” Sometime in the midst of those sessions, I realized I had already made a decision. That decision was for life—both for Jesus Christ and until-death-do-us-part with my husband. I asked the Lord to “officially” save me and soon afterward made that public in the body of people who had prayed so faithfully for us both.

If this had been the end of the story I would have been happily-ever-after indeed. Little did I know our tale was only beginning.

The Call

Over the next weeks, I watched Luke transform in front of my eyes. Where once stood a rough-around-the-edges construction worker, I now found a softened gentleman. Where turmoil had churned, peace now reigned. A thirst for the world was replaced by an unquenchable longing to drink up every bit of the Word that he’d neglected for the past years.

I’m in no way suggesting that a called minister is on a plane above any other Christian, but what I will say is that even in my own spiritually immature state, what I saw happening in Luke seemed to be so much more fervent than what I saw in other men. And as for my own walk, Luke’s desire made me long for more. If I can be so biased, Luke was special—an opinion I still hold.

I tell you this because I want you to understand that after Luke finally told me he believed God was calling him to minister, my head was shocked, but my heart wasn’t. Something in me perceived our life had taken a twist that surpassed simply returning to our old lives a renewed version of our previous selves. We both were experiencing intense restlessness in our jobs. I had just left an entire career on a lark. And Luke, who had always loved his trade and coworkers, began dreading the alarm clock every morning.

Have you ever read the book The Return of the King in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy? In the end Frodo the hobbit leaves his home, the Shire, after risking his life to save it. When explaining to his best friend, Sam, why he has to go, he says, “There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same.” In much the same way, the dailiness of our lives had taken on a sense of not-quite-belonging in the place that had always been familiar. Accepting the fact that God was calling us to serve Him in some capacity was like turning a dial to the last number on a combination lock. The “rightness” of it clicked, and suddenly the future was wide open.

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

Luke and I began to pray and seek God for what He wanted us to do—definitely a first in our married lives. I have no biblical basis for what I am going to say next, but I believe God answers the prayers of baby Christians with a shout instead of a whisper. God has taught us how to discern Him more through prayer and His Word now, but in those early days He had to throw out the flashing neon signs before our own lightbulbs lit up.

The first two of those signs were named Al and Doyle. Both of these men mentioned the name of Clear Creek Baptist Bible College within two days of one another. Al had just returned from a Constructors for Christ project, during which they had built new one-bedroom duplexes for married students without children. Doyle was a longtime supporter of the school. These days I call that type of communication from God a double affirmation, but then we were still thinking, “Hmmm.… That’s odd. I wonder if we are supposed to look into this?”

And God was saying, “Ya think?” while restraining Himself from knocking our foolish heads together.

Luke hesitated contacting the school to request information because he had no hopes of getting in. What I’ve not yet told you is that he didn’t graduate high school. What dropout had any kind of chance to go to college? He finally mustered the nerve to call, and we scheduled a visit. We still didn’t know for what. Both of us realized we wouldn’t be able to go right away but thought maybe the school could give some pointers on what Luke could do to become a student someday.

We traveled to the college and were in love at first sight. The campus was set in the mountains and was absolute lush, peaceful perfection. Arriving there felt like coming home, which at the time was heartbreaking because we knew this place couldn’t possibly be in our near future.

The following day we met the director of admissions, Jay. He was and remains one of the most boisterous, joyful, encouraging people we have ever known. Luke explained his full situation—particularly the part about not having a diploma. Luke expected to hear, “Sorry, son, but you don’t belong here. Come back in a year or two when you are good enough.” Instead Jay chuckled and said, “No problem!!”

No problem? How is not having a high school diploma not a problem?!

Brother Jay enthusiastically went on to explain there was a special program in this college for men who did not have a high-school degree. They would take regular college courses and also be tutored for high school in the freshman year. Students had two semesters to pass the GED, at which point they would have official student status and all classes would count toward a fully accredited degree.

And just like that, there was Neon Sign Three, and it blinked wildly, “Road Open!”

One patient, gracious God gave us three signs in an overwhelming answer to our many prayers—and they all pointed toward our new home. (One of the homes Al built, no less!)

Absolutely Certain (I Think)

Well, enough about us—for now anyway! Since I’ve shared a little backstory with you, I’d like to talk about what I believe is one of the foundational principles of our lives as ministry wives: the nature of our own call.

I realize each of our inductions into a life of ministry was met with different levels of enthusiasm. It’s not every woman who looks forward to low salaries and high expectations. Of frequent moves and misunderstood children. Of criticism and conflict. These are just a few stereotypical pitfalls that can understandably cause a woman to put the skids on any plans her man has for serving in vocational ministry.

As Luke was processing the call God placed on his life, I was blessedly ignorant of all the things I just listed. My church experience was limited to a few years of attendance as a child, so I really had no comprehension of the chew-’em-up-and-spit-’em-out reputation of churches where ministers are concerned. Naïveté is not always a bad thing—especially when knowing all the details could result in being too fearful to take the leap into God’s plan for your future.

But what part do you play in what God is asking your husband to do? Has God called you in the same manner as him? My short answer is to state plainly that every wife has the God-given role of being a faithful helpmeet no matter if her husband is a banker, a mechanic, or a schoolteacher. However, there are unique challenges and more assured uncertainties for the wife who has the high charge of supporting a man directed to leave the familiar behind and follow God’s call into the unknown. What are some of those challenges, and how should we who find ourselves in this situation react? Let’s learn from someone who has gone before us—Abraham’s wife, Sarah.

A Woman Out of Control

We meet Sarah in Genesis 11:30 and are told simply, “[She] was barren; she had no children.” In the Middle Eastern culture, Sarah’s dignity was directly tied to her being married and having babies. Since she was childless, she would not have risked staying behind without her husband, no matter how unsure she may have been about Abraham asking her to leave Ur. There was nothing but shame for Sarah in Ur without Abraham.

And conversely, there was nothing in Canaan for Abraham without Sarah. It was out of Sarah’s infertility that God would perform one of His most awesome works—the miraculous birth of a nation consecrated to Himself. Abraham could have found any number of women who weren’t suffering from the heartbreak of barrenness to be his wife. However, the supernatural birth of Isaac was the requirement for properly illustrating God’s glory through human hopelessness.

Long before Abraham met Sarah, God purposed for the two of them to be the human agents through whom He would bless the nations. Neither of them could have participated in God’s plan alone—each needed the other. That concept is no different for those God continues to call today to spread the good news throughout the world.

When I think of all the quirks and hang-ups that Luke and I both have, it is amazing to realize that for the most part we do not have the same ones. Luke is painfully shy; I’m the social extrovert. Luke is compassionate to a fault where I am more critical. Luke doesn’t understand drama, and I am a master of it; therefore, I am able to help him comprehend the underlying issues women have when he has no clue how to proceed. God placed us together as a team to complement one another’s weaknesses and to nurture the spiritual children He has entrusted to our care. I have total and complete faith in Luke’s ability and he in mine, and yet neither of us believes for a second we could have any measure of ministry success without the support of the other.

To the reluctant ministry wife, I understand your fear. I know your need to have some input on how and where you are going to raise your family. Even the wondrous event of God entering into covenant with Abraham on the assurance of an heir was not enough to keep Sarah from trying to control the way in which the promised child would come into the world. And thirteen years later, Sarah laughed when they were told once again she would have a son. Abraham’s seed could only be reckoned through Sarah, and that required a separate faith on her part—a willing participation in what God purposed to accomplish through their son, Isaac. Sarah wasn’t perfect. She could be harsh and unbelieving and manipulative. However, Hebrews 11:11 tells us God gave her strength to participate in the creation and blessing of nations because “she considered Him faithful who had promised” (NASB).

My personal feeling is that we can make the idea of serving in ministry way more complex than God ever intended. In the case of Abraham, God promised children more numerous than the stars in the sky and the sands on the seashore, but He didn’t ask him to birth them all! He gave Abraham charge over one piece of that promise—beloved Isaac. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the enormity of what God is asking us to do that we forget the Big Picture is composed of individual frames of obedience. I’m guilty of shutting down physically and mentally when the job seems way too big—and all God has asked of me is to trust Him one day at a time. It’s much easier to walk into the unknown if we can focus on being faithful with what is required of us today, trusting God for His faithfulness in all our tomorrows.

It’s Simple, Really

Are we called alongside our husbands? Absolutely. Is the life we are called to complex? You bet. But, based on my personal experience and the example of Sarah, I believe we are asked to do three things that will simplify our thinking and therefore help us to not only accept but look forward to a certain future.

We are called to trust.

1 Peter 3:6 says, “Just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, … you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear” (NASB).

This verse is found in a passage describing how a woman’s beauty is to be found internally instead of externally (verses 1–5). Among other things, Peter describes how a woman should be in willing subjection to her husband, even if he is not a believer. Dread shouldn’t motivate her in yielding to him, but rather a healthy fear of God’s mandate to honor her husband. Sarah’s singular obedience was dually blessed. She wanted to obey God by following Abraham. God’s laws are not arbitrary and are not given without benefit attached. Sarah’s reward was the gift of inclusion into the blessing of the nations that God had intended through Abraham. If we seek to surrender our lives to God’s will through His call on our husbands, we will be given the blessed distinction of being a daughter of Sarah.

So what does this type of obedience look like in a minister’s wife? Certainly the amount of reluctance you are feeling towards this role will dictate the type of faith it will take to accompany your husband into the unknown. Hear me well when I say that no matter how much initial trepidation I feel when God asks something of our family, He has yet to call Luke to a task without also piercing my own heart. It is always heartbreaking for me to talk to ministry wives who do not express any sense of calling toward their husband’s work. The reasons are endless, but most often the wife incorrectly believes that his ministry is just another vocation and has nothing to do with her, or she absolutely wants nothing to do with a life with trappings holding no obvious appeal.

You may ask, “Is it wrong if I don’t want my husband to be a preacher? Can anyone blame me if I don’t want to leave what is comfortable and predictable? What if I don’t want to move away from my extended family?” And bigger still, “What if I don’t trust my husband to discern God’s voice?”

If you find yourself feeling this way, then it is time to look past your wants and even those of your husband and straight to the face of God. Ask Him what He requires of you. Are you willing to trust Him with your unknown? Are you willing to obey even if you believe your man has some static in his radio? I wish I had an easy answer here, but in reality these questions can only be hashed out in some sincere facedown time with the Father. Because I continually remember the comfort and reassurance He has offered me with these same fears, I can promise you He’ll invade your heart with a much-needed peace in the midst of the pain that often goes along with hard-fought obedience.

Luke and I had no idea in the beginning what our exact ministry would look like. Would we be missionaries? Would he be behind a pulpit? Would we work in a parachurch organization? We had no clue. In the same way, be assured you won’t always know every detail of what God is asking of you. However, though the what may be unclear, we can always trust the motivation of the Who. Our faith in His promises and the assurance of His continual blessing upon the nations through our obedience in spreading His Word is enough to follow our man wherever God leads.

We are called to participate.

Hebrews 11:11–12 says, “By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore” (NASB).

I can identify with Sarah on so many levels. Though she is heralded as a model of faithfulness, we know she behaved badly in her doubt. Just think about her side for a bit. God made these covenant promises to Abraham but never mentioned Sarah’s name once until she was ninety years old—some twenty-five years after God first appeared to her husband. She knew God promised Abraham an heir, and when the plan she hatched to speed that along resulted in Hagar’s pregnancy, Sarah may have felt left out by God entirely.

Are you like the girl in the beginning of this chapter who felt no one needed her? Do you ever feel left behind to cook, clean, and take care of babies while your husband spends the better part of his days ministering to everyone but you? Are you convinced he is having a blast crusading for the kingdom while you are stuck at home in the castle—as Cinderella no less?

Obviously the season of life you are in dictates to what degree you are able to participate in the work of the church. Listen closely, young mothers! Your ministry in this stage of life is to those precious babies in your care. If you have your own desires to serve in things such as women’s ministry, Bible study, administration, etc., your day will come. Some of you are able to soldier on and do these things in addition to caring for your toddlers, but many are just not able to do it all. And you know what? You aren’t supposed to. If you find your home is suffering and your kids are begging for your attention, then they—not church ministry—take absolute precedence. Never, ever apologize for making your family first!

My children are no longer babies, but I am just as busy with them in other ways. Diaper changing and bottle feeding have given way to homework and taxi service to whatever sport they are playing at the moment. Though I consider myself active in ministry, there are many things I don’t do. For example, I don’t always make it to the funeral home every time someone passes, due to the simple fact that I would have to bring my kids and I don’t particularly think they enjoy going any more than I enjoy having to get them dressed and wrangling them once there. I do have a tradeoff, however—I help with the meal if we are hosting one for the grieving family. The kids can hang out in a back room, and the stress is greatly relieved for them and for me. Not to mention our darling church ladies always fix the kids a plate from the leftovers. This is my way of letting the family know I love them, I care, and I am taking part to the best of my current ability without making myself crazy.

No matter if you are a seasoned ministry wife or a relative newbie, there is always one thing your congregation will pick up on loud and clear—your willingness to serve despite your inability. Do you work outside the home but do your best to participate in the body when possible? The church knows this and for the most part will understand. (Oh, there will always be exceptions!)

However, what they will not easily forgive is when you take a seat in the back and refuse to play a part—able or not. There are many women who are embittered by the demands the church has placed on their family’s life and time, therefore they refuse to support their husband’s ministry or the church body in any way, shape, or form. We’ll discuss in a later chapter the delicate balance between home and church life, but let’s just say for now that this attitude is extremely unhealthy and can be a huge detriment to your husband’s relationship with the church. The support the congregation perceives your husband receiving from you and your willingness to care for them even if you aren’t able to do all that you’d like is a bridge between their hearts and your man’s. Just like Sarah, your participation in his call is not only nice but necessary for him to effectively live out what God will do through him, whether you realize it now or not.

We are called to hope.

A life in ministry ultimately calls us to one thing: a hope for a greater glory than current circumstances reveal. I can’t think of a higher charge than the invitation to participate in God’s good intentions toward His creation. Sarah considered God faithful in His promises towards her, and because of that, she was able to look past the difficult years of childlessness and hold the manifestation of God’s blessing in her own arms.

Many years ago I watched a mafia movie (I don’t have any idea what it is called) where a gangster was teaching his young son about trust. The boy was on a ladder, and the father repeatedly told him to fall backward into his arms: “Don’t worry! I’m your father. Do you really think I’d let you be hurt?” The boy was more frightened of his dad than the fall, so he let go of the ladder. As he fell the dad stepped to the side and let him crash to the ground. His son stared up in surprised pain as the father said, “Never trust anyone.”

I think many of us have the mindset that God is the father who is setting us up for a huge fall and that we can’t trust Him to keep something painful from happening to us. The difference is He is standing in your unknown saying, “You can ALWAYS trust me!”

He never promises our lives won’t hurt, but you know what? He will always cushion us. Certainly there are hard days but in the midst of them you will find laughter, just like Abraham and Sarah. Sometimes those giggles you share will be born out of pure joy and at other times from incredulous unbelief. The thing to always remember is that you and your husband are in this thing together. There is no part of what God intends to do through either of you that isn’t intimately intertwined with the love and support of the other. God has appointed your husband according to his gifts, and your first priority as his wife is to affirm him in this role. However, many of you have desires for ministry that will involve taking off in your own direction. That doesn’t mean you supplant your hubby, but in the appropriate season, there will be many ways in which your own talents will broaden the scope of what he is able to do alongside you versus going it alone.

If You Say So

One of the coolest things about this book is the fact that these are not just my own observations! I mentioned in the introduction that I have a blog called The Preacher’s Wife ( Blogs are explained in greater detail in Appendix A of this book.

As part of the research for this project I asked a series of survey questions to the ministry wives who hang out with me online. (I’m excited to tell you there are a lot of them!) These Round Table discussions provide advice and encouragement from women who are serving in the trenches just like you. More than anything, I pray this book confirms the fact you are not alone in your circumstances, your joys, your struggles, or your opinions. I am so thrilled to introduce you to an online community of women who absolutely understand where you are coming from. I’ve also gathered comments from laypeople. I think it is imperative that we hear from both perspectives in order to understand one another’s hearts and hopefully build stronger relationships.

Now let me be clear: I am in no way saying that “virtual” friends should replace your flesh and blood ones. What I can tell you is that I have met many women in person that I’ve first made contact with online through my blog and they’ve become my dearest confidants. Blogs are but one fresh and relevant way to establish connections with women who will support you in your role as a ministry wife. We’ll discuss those various avenues in a later chapter centered on friendships.

For ease of identification (and to show off my excessive-texting-abbreviation skills), my blog friends will be known as the M2M Girls (as in, Married to Ministry Girls). Make sense? Let’s see what they had to share about their perspectives on calling.

Round Table

“I never wanted to be a pastor’s wife. When my husband felt called (before we got engaged) I had doubts. But, what God wanted and had planned was far greater than I knew at the time. He eventually convinced my heart to follow Him.”—Sarah @ Life in the Parsonage
“I feel like my highest calling is to be my husband’s supporter, his encourager, his helpmate. I believe that my service in the home, especially at this season in our lives with small children, is the biggest call in that ministry. He could not focus on doing the greatest part of his calling—preaching the gospel—if I didn’t do mine.”—Crystal @ Life Is Nothing Without Him
“As a layperson, I think it is obvious when a wife doesn’t share her husband’s passion for ministry. I don’t believe a pastor’s wife has to be everyone’s friend or attend every church event. But I do think you can tell by her general demeanor if she is ministry-minded. And, rightly or wrongly, the vibe I get from her reflects on her husband.”—Lori (layperson)
“I felt a call to ministry years before I met my husband, and deep down I hoped that call meant I would marry a minister. My challenge came several years later when he started thinking about leaving the ministry and I thought, ‘Wait a minute. I married you as a minister, so you have to stay one!’ I came to realize that I was married to him—a person, not his title—and I would love him no matter what.”—Kecia @ Kecia’s Journey
“I don’t know of any other occupation that my husband could have that would require me to be a part of the ‘package deal’ (for free) except the ministry. That took some getting used to!”—Sherry @ Life at the Parsonage
“It’s easy to spot a woman who’s happy for and proud of her husband’s life/accomplishments/calling. It may not be easy for her to ‘follow’ when she is in the background with young children (early on), but she is proud of her man’s walk and character. That is a beautiful thing to see.”—Darnelle (layperson) @ All Things Work Together

Now That You Know:

How are you responding to God’s call on your husband? Seek out a seasoned pastor’s wife and ask her to share her experience with you for reassurance.
Take the power away from the vague fears Satan will give you about the uncertainties you face by writing down what scares you. Search out the truth of God’s Word to apply to each. Afraid of moving away from family? Claim Matthew 19:29. Worried your family will not be provided for? Pray Psalm 37:25.
Laypeople: Has a man in your congregation announced a call to ministry? He is often congratulated and much is made over his decision, but his wife may be struggling in his shadow. Take the time to encourage her by pointing out the gifts she has that will be an asset to him. If there isn’t a new minister in your midst, consider writing a note of encouragement to your existing pastor’s wife to let her know what a vital part she plays in her husband’s work.