Thursday, April 25, 2013

Pastors' Wives Uncensored - Week 3

Hi all! Instead of having a guest blogger today, you are going to be stuck with me for this week's edition of "Uncensored," whether you like it or not! I knew that I would add my post in at some point, and this week provided a perfect opportunity since I recently got some new found free time, and also because I was greatly reminded of why this role has more blessings than burdens. For those of you who don't know our full story, here's the condensed version... Josh and I met in South Florida while he served as a youth pastor at a church in Fort Lauderdale. After meeting and deciding that South Florida was not a fit for us (nor was being a youth pastor), we moved to northwest Illinois where he was the planting pastor of a satellite campus of a larger church. He had already told me at this point that he wanted to plant a church and since I didn't really know what that meant, it scared me to pieces. The campus pastor experience was what we like to call "church planting on training wheels" as we had the opportunity to start something with the safety net and backing of a larger church supporting us. It was about a year and a half later that we decided to start praying about the church that we would plant somewhere someday and only six months after that when we felt like it was time. Having only visited Lexington, KY a few times to visit my sister and her family, there was something that stirred in both of us that made us want to call the Bluegrass State home. In June 2011 we moved to Lexington to start meeting people and sharing the vision of our church and TurningPoint Church was born on February 12, 2012. We are currently seeing around 500 people come through our doors each weekend, lives being changed, and God move in big ways. It's been an adventure, and I know that the best is still yet to come.

So backing up a little, let me first say that I never thought that I would be a pastor's wife. I know I've shared this before, but I did try to say "no" to our first date because Josh was in ministry. When we met, I was a bit of a party girl and church was not exactly on my list of priorities. But he was persistent (as those of you who know him can attest to) and so I changed my mind and gave him a chance. It did not take long to realize that this was something special and after only 6 weeks (yes, 6!) he proposed and I said "yes." We got married 10 months later and immediately moved to Illinois to be campus pastors. Notice I say campus pastorS, plural. In his mind, this was something that we would do together, and in my mind, this was totally HIS thing and my role was to be a perfect little housewife, work my 9-5 job from home, and help out with the church here and there when needed. Every time he asked for my help I would inwardly complain that he never helped me with MY job, and the church was HIS job, so why should I have to help him?  I was constantly frustrated because he was working all the time and he was constantly frustrated because if I would've just offered to help and taken some easy (mostly administrative) things off of his plate, he could have spent more time at home. This frustration was alleviated a little when Jake was born as all of my time was spent caring for the sweetest face on the planet, but even with 12 weeks of maternity leave, I did not really "get in the game." You could find me at church on Sundays and I reluctantly went to small group once a week, but there was no real buy-in. Church was still something I "had to" do. 

It wasn't until we decided to move to Lexington that church became something that I "wanted" to do. I think in many ways it was less ministry to me and more planning and creating, which works well with my gift set. I was an event planner for a long time, so this role was more in my wheel house. We had Lilly during this time and I felt like a constant failure. Instead of Lilly being an excuse not to help, she was a new addition that was keeping me from helping out more. As a disclaimer, I never resented her and think I enjoyed her as a newborn than I even did with Jake, mainly because those "new mom" worries weren't there. With an 18-month old, a newborn, and a church in the planning phases, however, I did feel a bit run ragged. Instead of being frustrated that Josh worked all the time, I actually encouraged him to work more. We had decided that we wanted to do this while the kids were young so that they'd never remember dad missing dinner or working all the time because we wanted to build a place that they would always love and never feel like they were competing with. So when I went to my sister's house for dinner or ran to get groceries, I felt like one big, hot mess. Chances were, I hadn't showered that day, Jake was throwing a tantrum over something or another (he hit the "terrible two's" right around the time that Lilly came along) and I was lugging around the big bucket seat, probably slamming it into things while trying to calm down our son. They were probably imagined, and my sister has since assured me that I did not seem to be a complete disaster, but I felt like I just got those "pity-stares" from people wherever I went. I think I so desperately wanted to appear like I had it all together because I never wanted people to wonder why my husband was not helping more, especially since I was the one who continued to encourage him to have more meetings, meet more people, and get our church up and running. It was exhausting, yes, but I have no regrets about that. And when Josh was home, he would do double duty, trying to serve me well and spend as much time as he could playing on the floor with the kids, doing bath time and bed time duty, reading books, and just loving on them. I honestly don't know how he managed it all, but we had known that we would have this "busy" season when they were young, so that we could have more time to make memories with them when they would actually be old enough to make memories.

The church started around the same time that I went back to work. Managing two kids, my full-time job, and running the kids' ministry was a huge undertaking, but I feel like even though we were running around like crazy people, we figured out how to sustain that pace, at least for a short while. At this point we were running a sprint, and ministry is a marathon. Thankfully when I was about to burn out someone came along who was a good fit to take over the kids' ministry and things balanced out a little bit more. I took a break from serving all together, and a couple of months later I decided to just volunteer in the toddler room at one service and as a greeter at another in an effort to find my "sweet spot," which we're still figuring out (but honing in on by the way). 

Two weeks ago I went to the ARC Conference with Josh where we heard some of the greatest speakers in ministry teach on church planting, leadership, and ministry. On our long drive home we talked about what role I would have in our church in the future and how we can start preparing for that now. It was decided that I was going to take some time to learn all areas of ministry, so that I could see the nuts and bolts of the entire organization so that I would have a great base knowledge when that time came. The conference really had an impact on me, where I moved well past the "have to" do church, and the "want to" did not just turn into "get to" but "need to." I saw our city in a whole new light, watched the news and saw the darkness of our world and clung to the knowledge that Jesus and His love is the hope for this world. I left there needing to dive in, needing to help, needing to serve alongside my husband, maybe not as a lead pastor, but in a capacity that fits what I was made to do. We always teach "you were created on purpose and for a purpose," but until that ride home, they were just words that we say and they didn't apply for me. It was on that drive home that I realized that God has a mission for me, a purpose that He has set me apart to do, and I need to seek Him and listen so that I can fulfill that calling. I will be honest and say that I'm not entirely sure what it is yet, but I do know that it's time to "get in the game." I need to be a bigger part of His church.

If anything, me losing my job this week was confirmation of that. I don't feel like I was "let go" from my job, but rather "released." Whenever anything is released, the animal, person, or whatever generally charges out of there, ready to conquer whatever is next. It's only been three days and I'm still not sure what this all means for me or for our family, but I do know that God has closed that door so that I can shift my focus to some things that He's been calling me to do. I still may work, we just don't know, but this in-between time is being used to restore my spirit, quiet my mind, and prepare my heart for whatever is to come next. I've never been more excited, which seems like an odd reaction to a lay-off.

So here is what I will say about being married to ministry... it's hard sometimes, really hard. In fact, there are days that my husband comes home feeling like he was the community garbage dump as people pour out their problems to him. Don't get me wrong, that is his heart and what he's there for, truly to be a pastor to those who need him, but it can be draining at times. Then he comes home weary to a wife and kids who need him, and on some days he's just spent. When frustration wells up in me, my biggest struggle is with guilt. My husband is tired from doing ministry, from building the kingdom, and who am I to get frustrated with that when I see how important this mission is? I should be honored to be a part of this and yet, sometimes I just want him all to myself! And then I remember that God values our marriage, too, and that guilt goes away, and I know it's okay to want him all to myself sometimes. It took awhile, but we've found our rhythm and hit our stride, and do more together than we do apart. I say this now knowing that in a month we will have to readjust to find the rhythm again as it is ever-changing as our church grows, and hopefully always will be. 

The question I get the most is, "isn't it hard having everyone in your business?" and to that I say, "absolutely not." As much as Facebook sometimes annoys me, it's a great way for us to connect to our church family and let them into ours. This blog is another place for me to do that, to share our hearts and our happenings. If we truly are a family, then we have to put ourselves out there sometimes. Granted, we have our boundaries and family rules such as when we will and will not take phone calls, visitors, etc., but it's only by letting people in that you let love in. Yes, it can be hard and yes, we have been burned by this before. There are people (although it's few and far between) that try to use our friendship for their own agenda or have some misguided intentions, but the blessings FAR outweigh the hurts. I think back to Jake's baby shower in that small town in Illinois. I kid you not, over fifty people showed up! It was crazy! And all of them just wanted to celebrate our joy with us! And then when I was hospitalized with a blood clot, which was a super scary and uncertain time for our family, they came in droves to support us. We have been given gift cards and free babysitting by families who want to see our marriage remain healthy and do that as a token of their appreciation. When we have happy news, everyone shares the joy with us, and when times are tough, we divide the hurt. I was compelled to throw my "Uncensored" post in this week because I am in awe of the love that our church family has shown us this past week, and not just our TurningPoint family, but those from our previous church and several friends from other ARC churches. God loves us so much that He doesn't want us to do this alone, and the supportive texts, calls, and emails have healed a broken heart. How can I sit here and have a pity party when God has used this to bring people closer together? I will take my chances on opening up on others and take the occasional hurt from that in order to have this abundance of love, support, and friendship in my life. If you don't have that, I encourage you to go out and find that church family... and don't stop looking until you find the right fit. And don't just stop there... after that step outside of your comfort zone and join a small group, which is where I feel like real relationships and deeper friendships truly happen. And even though that seems like a lot, roll up your sleeves and really get in the game, serving in an area that helps build the kingdom. God loves to grow His family, and His family is such a wonderful thing to be a part of, so don't miss out on being a part of that. Get in the game, let yourself open up, and I promise you, putting yourself out there can be the start of some wonderful changes in your life.

Thanks for letting me open up to you... especially when my posts get this lengthy (which is rare). And thank you for loving our family they way you do. Being married to ministry is truly one of the greatest gifts God has ever given to me, and I can't wait to see how He uses us next!

PS - Can you tell that writing is therapeutic for me?!?!?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Abraham Moment

This past Sunday my husband preached a lights-out message about Abraham. In it, he talked about how Abraham had a clear promise from God, but despite his faith, he still tried to get in the way and do things his own way to make these things happen. It was not until he truly threw his hands up in the air and stopped interfering that these promises came to fruition and his descendants populated the earth. Now, I know that my calling is not to populate the earth (or at least I hope not!), but I do know that God has been calling me to do more in our ministry, our city, and to make impact in our world. The only problem is, I can't seem to find the time.

Fast forward to yesterday at lunch time when our whole world was rocked by one phone call. To just put it out there, and in the spirit of transparency, I'm just going to go ahead and tell you that I was let go from my job yesterday (or "your position has been eliminated" as the so kindly put it). I got the whole "it's not you, it's me" song and dance and my six years of faithful service to a lavish resort in Miami has now been minimized to merely two weeks of severance pay and health benefits that end at the close of the month, which is lovely considering that they told me this with only eight days left in April. But alas, it is what it is and I cannot change this, so we must move forward.

I spent the day going through every emotion imaginable. In many ways I think I went through the entire coping process in about eight hours when it normally takes weeks or even months. As I hung up the phone, tears stung my eyes and freely ran down my face. I wasn't truly surprised as our company has been letting people go right and left, but I was a bit shocked as there was no fair warning; in fact, the meeting on my calendar had been set up as a "golf group review." The other three people (who are left) in our department each gave me a call to let me know how crazy it was and how they could not believe it was me who was next on the chopping block and it oddly made me feel better. I'm not sure if you've ever been let go from a job, but no matter what the situation, there is certainly a feeling of rejection. After learning, however, that they had all been assured a couple of weeks ago that this "letting go" process had ended and they need not worry about their own jobs, I almost felt relieved- liberated even. After hearing this and reflecting on the package they sent me packing with I realized that the management no longer saw us as people, but merely as employees. My former boss had left about a month ago after being there for 15 years, so I suspect that she felt much the same way although she didn't say. All I know is that after the hour or so that I allowed myself to have that pity-party, I felt nothing but a sense of peace. This was not the job or the company-culture that I had said "yes" to six years ago, so in many ways it's for the best. I had often said to close friends that I had lost passion for what I was doing and that I wished I had a job that truly made a difference in people's lives, but since the financial situation (and working from home) worked so wonderfully for our family, I never made the moves to see that happen. In these cases, I think sometimes God gets tired of us lamenting, wishing, and hoping, and so He intercedes and gives us the push we need, which is where I find myself today. So like I said, I had my pity-party, and then wandered aimlessly around the house. The call came at one o'clock, so there were still several hours of the "work-day" left... hmmm... what to do? I determined that until I figured out what was next, my current position was "stay at home mom," which meant that I could scrub my house from top to bottom and not feel guilty for doing it while I was "on the clock." While the kids napped, I ran the vacuum, even moving furniture to get all those hard-to-reach places. I scrubbed a carpet stain that I had been neglecting for months, boxed up the Goodwill pile that had been sitting on our closet floor, organized our laundry room, and wiped down the kitchen until it sparkled. It was oddly satisfying, and kept my mind off of things for a bit. 

Once I stopped moving, however, I went into a few minutes of panic mode... oh my goodness, we're going to lose about 65% of our income! Oh my goodness, we're going to lose our health insurance! How will we ever make it??? I started Googling "how to apply for unemployment" and took a look at our bank account, wondering if I should just go ahead and call DirecTV now to say that we can no longer afford their services or at least wait until I see the next episode of "Nashville." Should I sell my car and get one that is less cushy? Should we reconsider sending Lilly to pre-school next year? So many ridiculous questions flooded my brain that I could hardly keep up, but in the moment that I almost signed on to to search for jobs, I stopped myself... 

"I've got this".... was the small voice I heard in my spirit. I battled those other voices that were fighting for my attention and listened to the only one that mattered, the one of my creator, the Father who loves me deeply and will never abandon me. For the first time all day, I just sat and breathed deeply, basking in His love for me and resting on His promises. I thought back to that impacting sermon and asked myself, "Do I want to be the Abraham who said he'd follow God, but still tried to do things His own way because of doubt, or do I want to be the Abraham who climbed up the mountain ready to sacrifice his own son, because He knew that God had asked this of Him and had not let him down in the past?" And then I turned that thought inward and wondered, "Do I want to be the Kim who moved to Lexington three years ago full of faith but also full of fear, wondering not how, but IF God would pull us through the church planting process, or do I want to be the Kim who knows that even though our situation looks different now, God has a greater plan for me and He just needs me to trust him to see it through?" 

In these past few years, our faith has been tested time and again. But in those times of trials, not only had God proven over and over again that He will take care of us, He's far exceeded our expectations and made some incredibly miraculous things happen. I can think back to the four people that came to our very first launch meeting when we moved here to plant TurningPoint... sure, there were only four folks there, but had there been zero we might have quit! I think back to the timing of it all, when Josh left a big salary behind and we lived on mine for three months, and then on a very small maternity pay for three more, and yet we still managed to pay our hospital bills and treat our kids and family members to a nice Christmas... it just doesn't make sense! I think back to the house in Illinois that sat empty while we ate the mortgage, and then the renters who literally came out of nowhere when our saving account was about to run dry. I think about the 285 people God brought us on the day TurningPoint launched, the hundreds of salvations we've seen happen in that place, the palpable feeling of the Holy Spirit moving each week in that building, the boundless joy we witness at our baptism services, and the 500 people we're seeing come through the doors every weekend, merely 14 months after we started. It's miraculous, it's incredible, and it's only through God, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). If these things haven't yet perfected mine, I'm not sure anything ever will; what more could I possibly need?

So that's where I'm at... still a bit stunned, but completely resting in His perfect love and plan for me. While I don't know what the future holds, I know that the plans He has for me are good and they are plans to prosper and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). It might be a new job outside of our home, another work-from-home opportunity, or maybe a bigger unpaid role at the church, which I would love if we could swing it. It might be a new arm of our ministry, a season of just being home and investing in our children, or a presence on our directional team... who knows. What I do know is that during this in-between time I'm going to listen for that still, small voice, and spend my time investing in people, getting coffee with friends, taking the kids to the park, assisting our worship leader with some media projects, blogging more, getting into the Word, and trusting that the best is yet to come. Waiting on God can be hard sometimes, but I know that worry does nothing, fear can be crippling, and neither one will change the outcome. Today I choose to remember the promises He has already fulfilled for us and rest in His promises to come. Who knows, this might end up being the best thing that has ever happened to us... only time will tell.

Thank you for your prayers, concerns, texts, calls, and emails. I love my TurningPoint and ARC families, as well as the many wonderful family members and friends we have surrounding us. This is just a hurdle on our journey, but it's certainly not something that we can't move past. This is a new day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24).

Friday, April 19, 2013

Pastor's Wives: Uncensored - Week 2

Sorry this is a day late this week... funny enough, we were out of town at a church planting conference, so ironically the delay is blamed on ministry (although I probably could have done it on time).  This week my friend Jessica is sharing with us. Jessica blogs over at The Parsonage Family, works for, does some freelance writing and editing, and raises her two young daughters (and occassionally a foster child) with her husband Matt. They pastor a Methodist church in the Nashville area, and I love her honesty about the ups and downs of serving in a denominational church, proving that church is not always "one size fits all" and even as a ministry wife, a good fit is important!
Despite the fact that I named my blog "The Parsonage Family," I rarely write about pastor's-wife issues. That's because, for most of the time I’ve been a pastor’s wife (going on seven years), I’ve been pretty disgruntled about it, and found it hard to write about without being really negative and cynical.
Unlike Kim, I wasn’t turned off at all by the idea of dating a pastor/pastor-to-be. Matt was working in youth ministry when we met on our first night of orientation at Vanderbilt Divinity School. Being a religion major in college, and going on to study religion in grad school, I already had a notion of hoping to marry a man preparing to be either a pastor or professor. My parents told me to hang out next door at the Law School, but I liked spiritual, scholarly types, and knew there was a good chance of getting my MRS at the same place I was getting my MTS (Master of Theological Studies).
Despite having notions of marrying a pastor, I was not prepared for the actual reality of being married into the ministry, especially in the United Methodist Church, where pastors are assigned to churches within a certain geographic area, and matching up open churches and pastors desiring a move takes precedence over finding a “good fit” between church and pastor. So, I’ve felt a lot of frustration over not getting to choose where I worship, where we live (during our parsonage days), and just in general not getting to be a “normal” congregant. Not to mention all the usual stresses that go along with life in ministry. I found these statistics telling:
Did you know that 75% of pastors report a "significant stress-related crisis" at least once in their ministry? That 56% of pastor's wives say they have no close friends? That 33% of pastors say being in ministry is "an outright hazard to their families”? (Source: a post on Eugene Cho's blog, in a post called "Death by Ministry.")
I guess we’re lucky, in a way, that my husband experienced his “significant stress-related crisis” early in his ministry. I hope that, years from now, we will look back on that period of time as the worst time in our marriage (i.e. I hope we never experience anything worse). I’m glad to report we’re two years out of that terrible time now, and I’ve learned at least one thing about coping with the ups and downs of being a pastor’s wife, embodied in my decision of when to become a member of the church my husband serves.
I've known my husband for just shy of ten years. In that time, he has served three churches. I've been members of all three, but my decision to join has looked very different in each case.

In the first church, my new friend/boyfriend was the newly hired youth pastor when we met. I helped out with the youth some on Sunday evenings and for special events and activities, but continued to search for a church "of my own" on Sunday mornings. As we got more serious, however, I wanted to make a church home with this person I hoped to make a life and marriage with, so I came over to his church, got more involved, and eventually joined, around the time we got engaged. 
During our first year of marriage, my new husband was appointed to lead a small church in another town. And because I didn't know any better, and wanted to be a "good little pastor's wife," I joined the church on our very first Sunday. I don't really know if it's true or not, but I assumed that was the expected thing for a clergy spouse to do. Over time, however, I really regretted that decision. That church ended up being a very poor fit for my husband and me, and our time there was largely miserable. On top of all the other frustrations, the fact that I didn't "belong" there (i.e., fit in) was put into even starker relief by the fact that I technically "belonged" (i.e. I was a member).
When we were blessedly moved four years later (remember, in our denomination, that decision isn’t entirely up to us) I was determined not to put myself in such a situation again. So I didn't join on our first Sunday there. Or anytime in our first month there. No one said a word about it to me, though one older lady did ask my husband who they should "write to" about my membership, and my husband liked to tease me that until I joined another church, my membership would still be at our dreaded former church.
I waited more than five months before joining our new church. I had gotten to know the people. I had gotten involved. I had joined the choir. I felt like I belonged. And only then was the time right to make my "belonging" official.

When I went forward, I chose to say a few words to the congregation, explaining why I had waited:

"The pastor's spouse is often expected to join the church on the very first Sunday there. To me, that feels a little like getting engaged on your very first date. I wanted to wait until I got to know this church better to make my membership official. So now, after five months, I have come to know and love this church, and would like to join"

Three wonderful women actually got up out of their seats to come stand around me as I took the membership vows. We hugged, and I really felt they were not just church members, but my church family. People told me later that, knowing my reasoning, it meant more to them that I wanted to be a part of the church. And it meant a lot more to me, too.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pastor's Wives Uncensored: Week 1

Soooo, last week I told you that I was putting together a little series, compiling some stories from other women who are married to ministry. What I did not realize, however, was that the response from these ladies has been overwhelming!!!! I would send a quick note to ask them to participate and within minutes I'd recieve a resounding "YES!" from them, so I look forward to what these next few weeks (or months... who knows at this rate!) are going to look like.
Our guinea-pig of all of this you may remember from our "Reflections" series we did last spring and summer. Brittany and I worked together at our church in Small Town, Illinois, and even though that season ended way-too-soon, our friendship will last a lifetime. She's someone I can call when I feel like we have way too much on our plates and I can't think straight, and I am proud to have her as a prayer partner. And even though 'thou shalt not envy,' I seriously covet her sense of style... not just for her but for her entire family. They look like they come straight out of a magazine spread! She does a weekly recap of the messages at her church over at Daughter...Wife... Mom.... Sis.

But anyway, enough from me since you get me all the time... here are the words from Brittany: uncensored:

I’m super excited to be sharing this week on Kim’s blog as she opens up a series entitled “Pastor’s Wives Uncensored.”  Kim is a standout wife, momma, and friend!  And I’m super thankful to have her in my life!
My name is Brittany Neal and I’m married to one amazingly, HOT, awesome man named Jon Neal.  We have some seriously CUTE kids, if I do say so myself!  Max is 7, Lyrik is 5, and Jayda is 2.  We are currently serving on staff at LifeChurch in Danville, IL.  My father-in-law is the lead pastor and Jon and I serve alongside of him and my amazing mom-in-law.  THEY ROCK!!!! And we are honored to be serving in God’s house – it is a PRIVILEGE!!!
Normal?  What is normal??  What does a NORMAL pastor and his family’s life look like? This word, normal, seriously makes me CHUCKLE OUT LOUD!!!
According to the dictionary, the definition of normal is:
‘Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected’
Well, I can assure you…this Pastor’s wife, is FAR FROM NORMAL!!!  (If the photo of our family doesn’t give that away I don’t know what would…ha!) but with us being far from normal, I think we are closer to normal than what you might imagine…does that even make sense? 
Although we have a super crazy, demanding schedule most weeks, who doesn’t?  Jon and I enjoy going out to dinner, our boys love the park and playing sports, and Jayda loves anything DORA at the moment.  The ministry is our life – we live it and breath it!  We don’t know anything different, but that doesn’t make us weird, better than, or holier than thou.  We purpose to keep God at the center of everything that we do and through that we find balance!  And let me just say…we miss it some days!  We run late to school in the morning, our kids embarrass the heck out of us back in kids life at church, Jayda watches WAY TOO MUCH TV on some days (well maybe a few more than some), Jon and I fight about who is watching what on the TV, our boys say bad words occasionally, and the list could go ON AND ON AND ON!!!  I am a Pastor’s wife and this doesn’t make my life any different than the next person!  It may be wrapped differently, but we are all on this journey called life and we are all called!  We are called to grow in Him and we are called to pursue His purpose and plan for our lives! 
So, I’d like to say that we are far from normal and I’m more than okay with that!  I don’t want to be known for “conforming to the standard,” and I don’t want to be known as “typical” or “usual.”  God has called each and every one of us to be set apart and DIFFERENT so that we can bring glory to His name!  I love that when He created us He gave us each something unique and special so that we could transform our worlds.  I’m honored that He chose each of us…we are all chosen and called, we just have to be willing to accept the call!  Trust me, there are days when I question and ask, “why couldn’t I have gotten an easier job,” but does that even exist? 
I say all of that to say, I’m pretty certain normal is simply what you make it!  Purpose to live a life that is constantly in pursuit of God and His plans for your life.  No matter the call, if we are willing…HE WILL USE US!  Ultimately, that is where His Kingdom is advanced and glorified to the fullest!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bringing Spring Inside

As I mentioned yesterday, I was in a wedding yesterday, and like most bridesmaids do (I assume), I took my bouquet home with me. There are very few surfaces in our house, so the only good spot for it was on our mantle, which I have been unhappy with for some time now. I also happened to have a ton of Mason jars leftover from decorating that morning, and that's all it took to make me love that space in our home:

I've always loved having fresh flowers, but never thought it was worth the investment to keep up with it. Now I'm thinking I might be wrong... it's amazing what a pretty little bouquet can do!

And you probably are not wondering, but in case you want to know what the picture to the left of the TV is, well, it's one of our new favorite items around here. Our family has a motto; it's something we tell our kids every night before bed, and it's something that our church hears from time to time from the platform. To thank me for speaking at DG's Founders Day, my sweet friend Rebekah had this made for us... how thoughtful is that???

What she did not know was that I actually included that motto in my speech, so it was all the more appropriate.  Does your family have a motto? I think every family should! Words are so powerful!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Red Hot Mountain Getaway!

Hello, friends! I hope that you had a wonderful weekend! I am smack-dab in the middle of back-to-back wedding weekends, so I apologize if I'm a little off the grid these days. This past weekend I stood next to one of my closest friends, Sara, as she married a wonderful man, and on Friday I have the priveledge of standing beside my long-time best friend Elizabeth as she does the same. For some they might see these bridesmaid duties as obligations, but I have truly loved trying to make this time special for them both and hope that their wedding days were and are just perfect. I'm hopefully going to post about Sara's big day this week, so stay tuned!
Of course, along with wedding-day duties and showers, however, there is also the fun of planning a bachelorette party! For Elizabeth (whose shower you can see here), the bridesmaids are kind of scattered and we knew that this would mean a weekend getaway was in order. She initially wanted to go to the beach, but seeing that it would cost a lot of money during spring break season and it's very far for some of us to travel, we decided to meet in the middle and got a cabin in the Smoky Mountains. Besides, all she really wanted was a low-key girls' weekend where we really wouldn't do much other than relax and spend time together, so we figured we could do that anywhere!
If you have never rented a cabin in the mountains, I highly recommend it! Most are equipped with game rooms, plenty of bedrooms, back porches with gorgeous mountain views that you can look over from a rocking chair or porch swing, and outdoor hot tubs for relaxation... it's my kind of place. We all arrived on Friday night, had a delicious spaghetti dinner, stayed up until one o'clock in the morning sharing stories and catching up, and then "slept in" on Saturday and enjoyed a big breakfast. I put that in quotation marks because for those of us with kids, this meant that we just stayed in bed until about eight... my how things have changed! We spent the entire day in our lounge clothes, spent some time in the hot tub, took naps, and just enjoyed a nice change of pace. The one thing we wanted to make sure of, however, was that we did some sort of "party" for our bride-to-be, no matter how laid back it was. We just wanted it to be special.
A few weeks before the trip a couple of the other bridesmaids and I started thinking of themes and somehow got stuck on those red-hot candies... perhaps because this was right around Valentine's Day. We decided to take that idea and run with it and called it her "Red Hot Mountain Getaway," since we were celebrating one red hot bride! I called up my uber-talented sister, told her the theme, and she designed what just might be my most favorite invitation she has done to date (and she's done a lot of great ones!). Just see for yourself:

We asked everyone to wear red for our night out and our bride wore white. Actually, I wish I had a picture of the group because we could not have coordinated our outfits better... all the girls ended up in an equal mixture of red, white, and black as if it had been planned! Unfortunatley, all of the group photos are on someone else's phone. I did make sure to get this one, however, since we were the three moms on the trip, just to show that even post kiddos, we've still got it! Haha!

And since I don't have any of the photos from our night out, which was... er... interesting to say the least considering that Gatlinburg doesn't really have a night life, I just wanted to post the decor since it was fun! So here's a glimpse inside our Red Hot Party:

It was a fun and really easy theme for a "last fling before the ring" and one that I hadn't really seen before. We decorated with red roses, red hots (as well as other red candies), candles, pom poms, crepe paper, boas, and pearls and served red wine and red velvet cupcakes- heaven!  And the awesome table cloth? That's actually a curtain that hangs in our study... you can find it here. It makes me strongly consider using curtains as tablecloths more often as there are so many more cool options!
And what's a trip to Gatlinburg without this classic shot? If you've been there you know what I mean:

Sunday morning came quite early and I had to jet early to get to my speaking engagement, but it was wonderful to have a weekend away with these ladies, and one without kids! I love my children dearly, but a couple of days away every now and again can make a huge difference... sometimes we just need some me-time. I'm thankful for a husband who understands that, too.
Just four more days 'til my best friend is married off. I CANNOT wait!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Pastor's Wives: Uncensored

Intrigued? I've had it on my heart to do a fun little series for awhile, and now that Easter has passed, those of us in ministry families have a little bit more free time. Just like any profession, we have a "busy" season and a "slow" season, although to be honest it's never slow in ministry, and I'm going to take advantage of some freed up time to get this going.

So what's the idea behind the series, you wonder? I'm not sure about you, but growing up in church I don't remember much about the pastor's wife. From what I do remember (or maybe just assumed), she was an older woman who may have played the organ or sung in the church choir, someone who really did not speak out much and was more of a figure standing piously next to her husband. Let's just say that based on these images, I was not excited (and even tried to say "no" to our first date) about possibly marrying into ministry. But instead, what I have found, is that the other wives that I have been surrounded by have been some of the most real, authentic, genuine, and downright cool women that I have ever met, and I am so thankful and honored to be able to call them friends. With this in mind, I thought it might be fun to get into some of their heads and break down some of the stereotypes that people create for us. It's not uncommon for me to hit it off with someone until they find out what my hubby does (and therefore I do) and all of the sudden shut down, more than likely as they mentally try and recall whether or not they have cursed during our conversation. Newsflash: I have heard many curse wods in my life, and in fact, had periods in my life where I used them more than I'd like to admit (gasp!). And while it's a personal choice not to use that language any more, one has been known to slip out when, say, my car begins to hydroplane on a wet road or I bang my knee into the coffee table. It's the things like this, as well as bigger things, that we're gonna go after.

So I hope you enjoy the next few Thursdays as I have some guest bloggers joining me. Leading off with by one of my best friends on the planet, Brittany, who you may remember from the Reflections series we did awhile back. I'll post eventually, too, but thought it might be fun to mix it up for a bit. So tune in next week for week one and a fresh perspective from some great gals who married into ministry. I look forward to reading these and hope you do, too!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I Promised Myself...

...that this would not happen again this year....

But I failed miserably.

This, my friends, is a problem that seems to be turning into a weird habit and/or tradition. What are the odds that we get this thing out of our yard before Thanksgiving?