Sunday, September 24, 2017

Ask a Pastor's Wife

It's time again for Ask a Pastor's Wife!
I asked my Facebook friends to submit their questions, and they did not disappoint.
If you have any more questions about clergy family life, post them in the comments below and I'll answer them in future posts.

My answers are in italics.

Question #1
How do you mentally prepare yourself for appointment season?
This is the first time we've been appointed somewhere that didn't have a clear ending date. At our first appointment, we knew my husband would be moved after 2 years, so we were able to plan, pack, and prepare our hearts accordingly. This time it's much different. The rumor mill and church politics can produce anxiety, not to mention distract from the purpose of itinerant ministry, but it's part of the deal. Moving would be easy if we knew the church we were moving to would be a good fit for our gifts and graces, but it's nearly impossible to know that until you've already arrived. 

I've said before that I don't mind moving and that usually I enjoy the details and challenges of setting up a new home. But I'd be lying if I said that with each season's passing I didn't repack my decorations a little more carefully, not sure if the next time I open the boxes will be in this home or another. 
My kids have taken our moves in stride so far. But this will be the first time my youngest daughter will remember moving, and my middle and oldest daughters are getting older and more attached to friends and routines. It's only going to get harder from here. 

So we pray. We pray that the bishop and cabinet are carefully and prayerfully organizing moves. We pray that if we are moved, it's to an ideal match for our gifts and graces. We pray that the kids will find friends, that the schools will provide an excellent education, and that our new community will embrace us all. And if we are to stay, we pray that we can continue to be effective and achieve the goals the church has set for themselves each year.
And in the meantime we keep serving right where we are, up until the day we move.

Question #2
How do you manage family and having to split your husband's time/attention?
It's a balancing act, no different that what other working families go through day to day, I imagine. But it's easier to manage the demands on our time when we know we're living out our calling and doing what God has equipped us to do. 

Todd and I have flexible work schedules, so it's rare that one of us can't be home with the kids while the other works. When it happens, though, it's pretty stressful and reminds us that living far away from family is hard and lonely. 

Our family runs on a different routine: we spend more time together during weekdays and less on weekends. My husband has evening meetings 2-3 nights a week, so we try to keep certain days as sabbath. This tends to change with the church seasons. And what works for us now likely won't in our next church/es. As the kids get older, it will get even more complicated. But it's part of the gig. 

After 15 years of marriage and 6 years of ministry, we're learning to prioritize self care so we can be wholehearted parents and spouses. For me, that might look like getting a pedicure or having a kid-free lunch with a friend. For my husband, that might mean a round of golf or going to see a movie by himself. I used to think self care was an outrageous extravagance, but now I see how critical it is to our well-being.

Question #3
What are your hobbies?
 I like to read, write, and cook. I don't watch much TV, but I'm a news and political drama junkie: The West Wing, Veep, The Daily Show, and  Last Week Tonight are shows I never miss or rewatch regularly. 
Many of my passions have been inspired by things I've read, so I tend to stick to certain topics (environmental/gender/economic/racial  justice, faith/theology, family) and authors (Sarah Bessey, Brene Brown, Jen Hatmaker, Rachel Held Evans, Shauna Niequist). 
I've had to turn my cooking up a notch when I went vegetarian this summer--it's taken some time to adjust my cooking so that I'm not fixing multiple meals each time we gather at the table. But I'm enjoying the challenge, especially when I have a bit of time to meal plan at the beginning of each week. 

Question #4
If you had a day to yourself what would you do?
Such a lovely question. I'd answer differently depending on my location, but let's assume I'm at home in central Illinois. I'd sleep in and let my husband make lunches and get the kids off to school. I'd have some free time to read or write (or both!). I'd plan a nice dinner and head to the local farmer's market to source some fresh ingredients and maybe a bouquet of flowers. I'd have a lunch date or coffee with my husband or a friend at one of our favorite local places. Once the kids came home from school they'd play nicely together until dinner was ready. We'd eat outside or picnic near the lake and share about our day. We'd take the dog for a walk and watch the sunset. My older girls would help the youngest bathe and dress for bed. We'd snuggle up for stories and prayers. Then my husband and I would watch a movie or show together and have a beer or glass of wine.

It doesn't sound like much, but it's the intentionality of this day that appeals to me--being able to take some time for me, to tend to important relationships, to be quiet and still for just a minute, and to enjoy some natural beauty. Most days I get to do at least one of the things I listed, and over the course of a week I might check off several more. Life is pretty good!

Thank you again for your questions!