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 Call to Love

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This last month, I’ve been reading through the book The Church Planting Wife, Help and Hope for Her Heart. Two chapters in and I’m looking in a mirror of my experiences and struggles. It’s refreshing to hear that those who have gone before have had similar feelings.

Chapter 1 speaks of the the difficulty and the rewards of church planting. I identified with the mental games and spiritual warfare that can be brutal and I’ve often asked myself; If I’m called, why the deep valleys of depression? I’m reminded: He knows. He cares.

In chapter 2, the author talks about finding place and purpose as a church planters wife. The need to KNOW what to do, what the roles are for a pastor’s wife, can take over all sanity and clear thinking. My book is all marked up in this section, here are some of the notes I’ve written in the margins:

“The search for purpose and practical is never ending. Doing replaces trusting. Being sure of the call is one thing, micro-managing God is another.”

“You cannot live or give what you don’t have. There is no faking it. Eventually, you’ll need substance. When our lives are genuine, then we have all we need.”

On the topic of letting Christ define my priorities:

“I have standards and goals I want to live up to, I also have opportunities I don’t want to pass up. Knowing the balance in these, knowing just what God has for me to do is hard to navigate.”

And finally:

“Choosing to live in ravenous conditions when there is a feast at our reach is foolish and prideful.”

The valleys of discouragement, the emotional and spiritual exhaustion were all topics I identified with well. This past year has been a whirlwind of trial and heart wrenching decision making and difficulty. These weren’t all brought on by church planting, but they were all in the hand and direction of God. I know He’s taught me much this last 9 months and while I haven’t birthed a baby in that season, He’s birthed a new perspective; a different view of life.  I’ve seen deep things and been through difficult experiences that I know will be used all my days. This season has been hard, but for my good.

The one, overarching theme I pulled from these two chapters was the call to love. To love my God, my family, and the church body. This has been a prayer of mine and reading it here has cemented the idea in my heart. My goal, my desire and my top pursuit in the church has to be loving the body. I wish I could say this comes naturally to me, but it doesn’t and so it will continue to be my focus before the Lord.