Musings — June 2017

Hand in tiny hand they meandered their way down the aisle, flower girl and ring bearer, each gripping a bouquet, searching the crowded pews for the faces of their grandmothers.  I can’t recall ever Captureseeing a more beautiful flower arrangement than the one with the dangling rose that I received from my grandson at his uncle’s wedding.  It is no small thing to survive a journey in the hand of a small boy.

June has been a month of family, a season of gathering together around both celebration and mourning.  We’ve spent moments cherishing memories, and we’ve invested  time in preparation for the future as another son finds his balance on the edge of the nest and makes solid plans for his launch into good days to come.

We have welcomed another daughter-in-love into our family chaos, and we also continue to grow in our love and appreciation for the woman who loves our oldest son and cares for our grandchildren.

Father’s Day Celebration at Pemaquid Point

On the Blog

I enjoyed the hospitality of two blogging friends in June.

Sue Donaldson flung the doors and the windows open wide and filled the room with stories about the blessing of faces around a table.  I shared the story of our family’s ongoing relationship with missionaries who have visited in our home and have enlarged our hearts and our view of the world.  You can read the whole story here, and, while you’re over at Sue’s place, be sure to check out the series because Every Table Tells a Story.

Then, one day I received an email asking if I would share a review of one of my family’s favorite movies.  Well, of course I would, but first — which movie?  There’s been a lot of popcorn consumed in this house!  Hop on over to Melanie Redd’s writing home to find out why Chitty Chitty Bang Bang won out (over Master of Disguise) and why you should consider watching it with your kids and grandkids.  Also, be on the lookout for upcoming installments in Melanie’s series of good family films for summer viewing.

We met around four books at Living Our Days this month.  Thank you for your good thoughts — the conversation has been lively and I invite you to join us if you haven’t already.

Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker addresses the longing we have for authentic friendship, and just might feel like a heart-to-heart talk with a trusted girlfriend.

Kay Warren wrote Sacred Privilege with ministry wives in mind, but if you’ve done time in a pew, you will find rich wisdom in her words for navigating life with the family of God.

I devoted two separate posts to Keeping Place by Jen Pollock Michel because it addressed the meaning of home both theologically (read “A Theology of Home” here) and practically (read “The Work of Home” here).  If you’ve ever read words from Scripture and longed for the permanence that is more than place, or if you’ve found yourself overwhelmed by the practical details of housekeeping (and wondered if it’s worth it), you’ll want to settle into this book for a good long re-setting read.

Reading the Bible Supernaturally by John Piper was a challenging and rewarding reminder that, while we must approach our reading of Scripture with discernment and with all our diligent efforts as a student, we are mightily assisted by the Holy Spirit in our assimilation of truth and in the outworking of righteousness which comes about as a result of our having seen and savored Christ in His Word.

In the Garden

I am pleased to report that the entire garden has received its first thorough weeding . . . and now I’m starting all over again.  There is no “once and done” in this business of growing vegetables, which is an excellent metaphor for our process of spiritual formation.  I enjoyed the challenge of writing about this very thing at a new Facebook Group that I’m helping out with these days:  Seeking God Daily.  You can read my first contribution here, and you’re welcome to join the group for daily inspiration to pursue God through His Word.

Blessings and love to each one of you.  It’s a privilege to share words of encouragement and challenge here, to talk books, and to hear your thoughts in the comments.  Enjoy these fleeting days of summer (if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere!).

My favorite Sunday morning women and I are finishing up Peter’s first letter to his “elect exiles,” and since we are included in his wise offerings, let’s come into this new season with a renewed determination that  “above all [we will] keep loving one another earnestly.”

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Join me over at Leigh Kramer’s place for What I’m Into where others will also be sharing their end-of-month recap posts.  Great recommendations for reading and listening and enjoying life abound!

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.

 

 

Women in Ministry: What God Wants You to Know

We were greeted with warm handshakes and pleasantries, an outline of the morning service, and then a startling announcement:  “We assumed that your wife would want to take the children.”  In the early days of our marriage when my husband was the area director of a children’s ministry, I used to travel with him to his weekend engagements.  However, in those days, I had a full-time job, no children yet, and no — I did not carry a Bible lesson around in my back pocket. (Given the same situation today?  I’d probably go for it!  Why not?)

Ministry wives are often subject to assumptions and misconceptions, and it is with this audience in mind that Kay Warren has written Sacred Privilege.  However, her words are relevant to all women in ministry, with or without husbands.  She writes from the perspective of a life-long “church girl,” the daughter of a pastor, wife to Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and Purpose Driven Life fame, and also as the mother to a pastor’s wife.  The book is a distillation of wisdom gained from an entire life lived in the fish bowl of ministry — not from the viewpoint of “perfect wife,” but as messenger and strong survivor, as one who has taken strength from God for a very specific calling and now wants to pass that encouragement on to others who share that call.

If you are a woman in ministry, here’s what God wants you to know:

1.  “You need to embrace your own story — all of it — for the glory of God and the good of His kingdom.” (31)

Kay’s story includes a brush with a porn addiction and a rocky start to her marriage.  It includes a struggle with depression and the mental illness and ultimate suicide of her son. She assesses this terrain and concludes that the life she has lived is the exact price required for becoming who she is today.

2.  “There is no greater heritage than for children to see that ministry is not just for dads but also for moms and brothers and sisters.”  (50)

Sharing a ministry focus as a couple and also as a family protects everyone from resentment and eases the claustrophobia of the glass house that can plague ministry families.  Kay defines “thriving” over the long haul  as the ability to share a God-given dream and points to Ephesians 2:10 to affirm that God is the architect of that dream.

3.  “Success in ministry is not about numerical results or recognition but about thriving, flourishing, and growing strong in one’s calling and in one’s character.” (58)

This does not mean that women in ministry will meet everyone’s expectations.  On the flip side, it also does not mean that we will always be free to do the thing we love the most.  When it comes to defining success in ministry, the most important voice in the room is God’s.

4.  “You have a story that is worth telling.”  (125)

Sharing God’s redemption process in your life is risky because your weaknesses come out of hiding.  However, in the process, others are drawn into the Light, and true friendships can be formed that will endure for the long haul.  Life in community — knowing others and being known — is so much safer and more comfortable than life on a pedestal.

5.  “No one will take care of you but you.” (139)

That sounds cynical, doesn’t it?  And it’s not to say that God, your husband, and/or your loving church family are all out to exploit you and suck you dry, but there are some aspects of self-care that are completely in your court:  eating, sleeping, and moving every day are your responsibility.  My favorite of Kay’s aphorisms applies here:

“Control the controllable and leave the uncontrollable to God.”

Nourishing the inner life and stepping away from ministry for Sabbath rest may require some adjusting.  Cultivating this flexibility is a discipline that is well worth it in the end.

6.  “Accept the loss of privacy with God’s grace.”  (180)

Gail MacDonald and Edith Schaeffer have blazed a gracious trail for ministry wives (and all women) with their writing, and Edith is eloquently accurate on this subject of boundaries:

“A family is a door that has hinges and a lock.  The hinges should be well-oiled to swing the door open during certain times, but the lock should be firm enough to let people know that the family needs to be alone part of the time, just to be a family.”  (183)

7.  “Live with transparency and work hard to do what is right in the sight of God and others.”  (194)

Because ministry is a “sacred privilege,” God-honoring integrity is key, particularly in the crucial areas of sex, money, and power.  Kay and her husband maintain a “warnings” file with details about well-known pastors who have left the ministry because of moral failure — just to remind them of their own vulnerability.

8.  Maintain an eternal perspective.

Practicing radical forgiveness will make the battle scars earned in church conflict more bearable — and will even speed healing!  Franςois Fénelon offers wise counsel:

“Don’t be so upset when things are said about you.  Let the world talk; just seek to do the will of God.  You will never be able to entirely satisfy people and it isn’t worth the painful effort.”  (215)

The shared dreams and plans, the sacrifices and the adjustments required of women in ministry can be viewed alongside Paul’s metaphor of the Christian life as a race.  We run toward a finish line that is difficult to see, and the noise of the crowd — whether cheering or jeering — can be a distraction.  Making it “our aim to please” God is the mindset that will foster self-acceptance, a thriving family, and the ability to live out God’s calling on our lives with integrity and joy.

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This book was provided by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

For more information about Kay’s writing and ministry check out her website here.

If you enjoy reading Living Our Days, subscribe to get regular Bible studies and book reviews delivered to your inbox.  Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page.

I link-up with a number of blogging  communities on a regular basis.  They are listed in the left sidebar by day of the week.  I hope that you will take a moment to enjoy reading the work of some of these fine writers and thinkers.