The Peaceful & Undivided Heart

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I’ve just finished chapters 7 & 8 in The Church Planting Wife and have recorded some of my thoughts of them below:

Chapter 7: The Peaceful Heart – Battling Stress

A battle I’m all too familiar with, one that included panic attacks and a call to 911. I have had to willfully fight several times during this church plant to keep my heart beat steady; my breathing calm. I’ve learned how to purposefully relax, gathered techniques from trusted friends on how to steady my body and mind. God has been faithful.

In chapter 7, Christine Hoover shares how she went on a personal retreat to rest and as she returned home, all the stress also returned, and she wasn’t even home yet! She listed 6 different stressors that church planting wives face in varying degrees.

She goes on to discuss various examples in scripture on how to be “Busy but Balanced.” Speaking of Jesus:

“Although He experienced fatigue, He never grew frazzled.”

A part of a quote by Paul Miller that I particularly identified with and wanted to gather up and put in my pocket was this one:

“If we love people and have the power to help, then we are going to be busy….In the midst of outer busyness we can develop an inner quiet.”

An inner quiet. A peace and contentment in God, no matter what is going on in life, this trust in God sustains. That’s what I’m working towards. That’s why I get up again, keep pressing forward, keep trying and not giving up. Ms. Hoover talks about Jesus stealing small windows to be with God; I’m trying to incorporate these appointments of devotion into my daily life. As a means of sustenance. As a means of survival. As a means to obtain this inner quiet.

We’ve settled into a happy routine around here. Our nights are busy, but our days are mostly our own. There’s a lot of laughter and joy in our household as my family has learned to enjoy being with one another. Those days set apart were not in vain, God had a plan He was working out, He always does! I identified with this quote:

“A well-arranged soul and a kingdom impact for that matter – comes from a well-arranged life.”

There’s a juggling act here, being open to the Spirit moving and allowing schedules and routines to be changed, but also living an ordered life that has predictable encounters with the Lord. I’m learning how to live in both worlds. Meaning, my husband’s fast paced, ever moving world, combined with my ordered, structured and predictable life. I’m learning to have inner quiet in the midst of this.

Other notable quotes:

“…people are priority over tasks.”

“… an integral aspect of ministry is silence, rest and reflection.”

In the section that interviews pastor’s wives, Amanda Jones speaks of the spiritual warfare that comes with church planting. It was good to read that others have experienced the presence of darkness trying to infiltrate, the dreams, the spiritual battle that has emerged with church planting.

Chapter 8: The Undivided Heart – Choosing to Please God Alone

I read this chapter on an airplane with a 3 year old so the impact may have been thwarted, but I did draw some truths out.

She starts by talking about a silent conversation in her head, her thoughts leading her down a path of lies in an imaginary conversation that concludes with someone not liking her, thinking ill of her, etc. Yeah, I’ve had that conversation. She goes on to talk about the lies that the enemy speaks to us and how easily we grab them and run with them. People pleasing, comparison and jealousy are all discussed here.

I’ll have to come back and update this section when I read it again with our pastor’s wives, I suspect that much of the stresses in chapter 7 are in some ways rooted in the issues brought up in chapter 8.

Still enjoying this book, just 2 chapters to go! I’m also enjoying reading it again with other pastor’s wives and drawing new insights from it, as I’m in a different stage of church planting this second time around.

Thanks for reading!

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The Church Planting Wife – Chapters 5 & 6

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Chapter 5: The Sacrificial Heart

In chapter five, the focus is to be willing to be spent, to serve others and “eradicating pride.” Here are some quotes that give insight into the chapter:

“Am I willing to spend and be spent; not seeking to be ministered unto, but to minister?” – Oswald Chambers

“My greatest ongoing struggle as a church planting wife has been primarily with myself.”

Some personal thoughts spurred:

People will often say to me, you’re the pastor’s wife, you shouldn’t be doing this or that. This is actually a boost to my resolve that I must continue doing what I’m doing, I must serve all the more. If I, as a pastor’s wife, will not serve, then I’m worthless for the work of the Lord.

There’s a lot of serving behind the scenes as a pastor’s wife; that hasn’t proved to be my problem.  I’m good at that, I’ve done it for many, many years.  What’s proved difficult is serving not in my strength, but in my weakness.  For me, putting myself out there, reaching out, doing the up front jobs, puts me in a place of having to depend on, trust in and rely on God like never before. Serving out of weakness has stripped me of my strength so that I have no other choice but to throw myself on God’s mercy and ask that He might work in and through me.

Chapter 6: The Faithful Heart – Forsaking Fear

This chapter goes right along with the lessons I’m learning about serving in weakness, being fearless and trusting God.  It talks about being out there, planting a church, safety harnesses gone. This can be a fearful place to be, going out on a limb for God. Christine challenges:

“When we fight to stay in certain and controlled circumstances, seek comfort over discomfort, or need a fully mapped out plan, can we even claim faith in God at all?”

Personal thoughts:

Fear spreads, fear can be sensed and felt. Fear says, “God, I do not believe you are enough for this.” Faith spreads, faith can be sensed and felt. Faith says, “God, I know that I’m not enough, but I believe you are more than enough for this.”

These two chapters were timely and further cemented the lessons God is teaching me right now.  Fear leads to partial obedience (disobedience!), a plan B that seeks to take God’s will and tweak it to our strengths so we don’t have to rely fully on Him.  I’m tired of serving in weakness, but my aim is to be spent in the service and glory of Him and doing this means I must be fully obedient.

Living fearless, transferring my fear of circumstance into a fear of God, that’s what I seek.

A Call to Help and Connect

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Moving slowly along in The Church Planting Wife, I’ve finished chapters 3 & 4.

I read a dissatisfied review on this book in relation to a woman who works for a living SO THAT her husband can church plant. She stated that her call was to work and she just so happened to be married to a church planter. I have to disagree. This call to work and this call to be a church planter’s wife can be lived out in harmony. I believe it would look differently for her, but I also believe the author asserts that the living out of these principles and issues will look different for each woman.

Chapter 3 speaks to the issues above, reminding us that the call is to the husband (and ultimately to God!), not the pastor or the church. Keeping a thriving relationship with God, a balanced schedule and a thriving relationship with your husband are the things the author challenges pastor’s wives to. Really, this call isn’t any different for a layman’s wife.

Friendships are the discussion in chapter 4. This one hit home, more than chapter 3, for me.  Knowing who can be trusted, how much to expect from a friend and being a good friend in the midst of this life can be very difficult. Christine Hoover did an excellent job being practical here.

“I leave feeling refreshed and full of life. They ask about me. (emphasis mine)” 

I remember a time when I left a very brief encounter with an dear, old friend, and expressed this exact feeling.  They had spoken just one phrase: “Your hair looks really pretty.”  This was the first time someone had said something nice – about me, to me, since church planting and that’s when I knew something was missing. I know this encounter sounds very vain; I can’t explain why it had such a huge impact on me.

Friendships have grown since that time, but I sometimes feel people want me to be who they want me to be rather than who I actually am. I try to remember that none of this is done maliciously, or even consciously, but it can be wearing when it’s coming from several sources at once.

Some of the practical things discussed are hanging in there and cultivating relationships even when it isn’t easy. Investing in women of various stages and walks of life and discovering friendship in the midst of that. She even discusses making friends with non-believers in the community and just asking questions to get to know them.

The book includes an interview with Brandi Wilson, a church planters wife from Tennessee. Brandi added these things that spoke to me:

  • Take friendships slowly
  • The very awkward situation where you have a boundary with a friend that they don’t realize, that’s so hard!
  • It’s OK and healthy to have different levels of friendships.
  • It can be good and helpful to have a friend outside of your situation. My cousin plays this role for me and she has been so very helpful when I need her!

The note that I wrote a very large AMEN next to was this:

“It’s possible to crave community yet also crave privacy.”

This is incredibly true of me. I’m a private person. I desire relationship, but I have a very real need for privacy and finding the balance in this is difficult. I have to make some hard stands sometimes and it doesn’t make me popular, but I also have to know my own limits.

Now to begin working on Chapters 5 & 6!  I’m enjoying this book more than I thought I would, blogging through it has allowed me to digest it slowly and take some things to heart along the way.

Thank you for reading. 🙂