-Martin Luther from The Holiness of God
As we are rounding the corner of our own seminary race, I’m coming face to face with the possibility of moving on from a place and people that I have come to love so dearly. And as I think back, a few things come to mind that I would love to pass on to any new seminary wife over a cup of coffee. Instead, I will post it here and maybe as you sit on your couch with your own cup you can ponder these glimpses into my own life as a seminary wife.
1. Find a good church and find it fast. When we first came here, our intention was to find a church where Matt could go on staff. In God’s providence that didn’t happen, and we are glad. After that, we were faced with the daunting task of picking a church in a sea of wonderful churches. It’s a good problem to have, but we knew it could take us months if we let it. We did visit a few churches, but once we went to Third Avenue we were set and then promptly turned our minds to be faithful church members rather than staff members. I could not be more grateful for our church. It has been the greatest blessing since being in Louisville and it hurts my heart to think about leaving it one day. I hate to think what it would have been like if we waited two, three, or even four more months to plug into a church. I know I would have felt lost and lonely.
2. When you find a church, invite people over. When we first joined, members in our church were very faithful to invite us over for lunch, dinner, or coffee and games. We quickly made friends this way. I think there’s just something about sharing a meal that brings people together. It was very common to get to the heart of each person when one of the most frequently asked questions was, “what is your story”. It then became a joy to reciprocate those invitations, and because of that, friendships formed quickly. God has kindly blessed us with the sweetest friends I think I have ever had. But, that didn’t come without effort.
3. Contentment. It’s hard to learn. Whether its been with jobs, busy semesters, missing familiarity, or wanting to have our future plans nailed down, contentment has been hard for me to learn. There have been times that I’ve felt stuck not really knowing my purpose and that is not a fun feeling. I remember one of our elders telling us that simply changing circumstances wouldn’t be the difference that I needed, that contentment could be a struggle at any stage of life. Thus, I knew I needed to buckle down and learn how to be content in all things in this season. The Lord was faithful to not only give me grace in this endeavor but to also continually provide joy along the way through a renewed outlook on my circumstances. I am grateful that I can take the truths of this lesson with me wherever I go.
4. Make memories. Your time in seminary will be brief. It’s good to be intentional with your date nights or weekends and go exploring in your town trying out new restaurants (one of our favorite things to do) or even just having people over for regular game nights. These are the things you take with you when you leave. I can think back to many wonderful weekends where we called friends up for an impromptu donut run, or our Downton Abbey watch parties, or even holidays and birthdays spent here when we couldn’t make it home. I know husbands are often buried in the books and you are typically poor in seminary, but that doesn’t mean that you have to forgo any fun! Take time for each other and those around you. You won’t be sorry.
5. Go on trips. Find an inexpensive place to get away one to two times a year and make every effort to go there. We are from the beautiful Ozarks in Arkansas and living in the city can be stifling at times. So for us we found a great little spot in North Carolina. It was inexpensive, in the mountains, with wonderful local restaurants, and lots of hiking trails. The first time we went it was just me and Matt. The next few times we brought friends, and those trips have become some of our favorite memories. It’s often what keeps us going through a hard semester.
6. Learn. Probably the main reason you came to seminary was for your husband to get his degree. I get that. But, that should never stop you from learning yourself. Learning doesn’t have to mean you enroll in a course and take it for credit (although that would be great if you could/wanted to do that). It can come in a variety of ways. For me, I have taken many Seminary Wives Institute courses here at Southern and they have been wonderful. I have also taken a few courses for credit (back when I thought about going for a degree). I’ve sat in on a few classes with Matt (immensely beneficial without the homework), and then I have been richly fed through the preaching at our church. Seminary isn’t a time for you to grow stagnant. Talk to your husband about what he is studying. It will encourage him to know you are interested and it will stretch your own mind. Pick up some of the same books he is reading for his classes and go through them yourself. When he is studying, make a point to do studying of your own.
Seminary is short. Let’s make it count.
Ever since college my reading habits have fallen by the wayside, I’m ashamed to say. Last year I sought to invest more time into reading during my free time, and I did see good fruit from that. However, looking back, I didn’t do a lot in the “spiritual” category. I know that doesn’t mean that I’m less of a Christian or that I’m less holy or godly. I do know that when I read good books that turn my gaze to Christ, my mind and affections more easily stay on Him throughout my day, and my quiet time is enhanced.Thus I set out to compile a book list for the year. I wanted it to be ambitious enough but not overly so to where I would get discouraged.
These first few weeks of 2014 have not afforded me a lot of time to devote to reading, but this weekend things took a turn for the better. Matt went on another short trip (this time to DC) and although I had plans it’s not like I was de-cluttering the house again. I planned on having some quiet moments to slow down and read. I even got creative and went to a coffee shop. So trendy of me, I know.
All that being said, I made my list, and let me do some ‘splainin before you judge. There are more than a few books that I have started to read or have wanted to read in the past but have never taken the time to read. Several of those are on my list. And for a few of them, I am ashamed. How did I go through my entire college career as an Intercultural Studies major and NOT read Let the Nations be Glad? I’m still baffled. Also, there are some theological topics that I would like to know more about, namely biblical theology- how the Bible fits together as one big story That’s where Goldsworthy and Hamilton come into play. I’ve been listening to the sessions from the Cross Conference (if you don’t know what that is, click here) and it’s helped rekindle a passion for missions in my heart. I decided to keep that going by reading a few books/biographies on the subject. The book on Patton comes highly recommended from Matt who says it’s his all time favorite book. I’m ready for the Sproul book to kick my rear, and I want to keep fostering a growing love for the church through Dever’s book. I really do hope to add a few more titles if I am able, but you have to start somewhere. Bring it on, 2014!
It was a bitterly cold winter the weekend that I set out to rid my house of unwanted clutter, trash, and all traces of un-organization. Matt left me for the great state of Colorado in order to perform a wedding. And there was never better timing as we had just come off a great Christmas break toting home a few wonderful new treasures with no place to put them. We live in a modest 1 bedroom apartment with two closets. It goes without saying that we don’t exactly have the luxury of keeping what we “might use later down the road”…although I’ve tried. We’ve stuffed things in all sorts of nooks and crannies of our little home and it has been driving me nuts for a while.
Well, inspiration came and it could not be tamed. I was home with my mom for a whole week and once again noticed her efficiency of keeping just what they need, everything having a place, and living an overall simplified and de-cluttered life. I truly want to imitate that. It’s hard being the sentimental person that I am. Things possess memories and meaning and that makes it difficult to throw them away even when they are no longer useful. But it’s not always the sentimental things that get me. Clutter piles up. I really don’t need 14 bottles of lotion with just a drop left. I don’t need to keep all those bags that I never use. And we don’t need to hold on to clothes that don’t fit anymore. It was time for me to live in the present and I wanted to ride the waves of motivation and inspiration as long as I could.
I developed phases of the house that I would tackle. Phase one: kitchen. Phase two: bedroom and bathroom. Phase 3: living room/laundry closet. Phase 4: front closet. Phase 5: desk area. It was one of the most exhilarating things to complete a phase. (I’m easily entertained.) I think my favorite was the kitchen. I seriously kept going back into the kitchen to stare at my beautifully organized cabinets and see how everything had the perfect place to live. I kept piling things into the living room as I tossed them. I was amazed (and horrified) at how it kept growing. Who knew how much you could collect in less than 800 square feet?
I was telling a friend about my eventful weekend and she asked me an interesting question, “is this one of those ‘get rid of everything and regret it later’ moments?” I stopped and it only took me two seconds to reply. “NO!” I have been needing to do this for a while and then was convicted that we really don’t need all the stuff that we keep acquiring and we really do need to live more organized. And honestly, if I did get rid of something that I really regret…I can always go out and buy it later. I’m not worried. I am, however, thankful every time I come home now. I breathe a sigh of contentment knowing that I have just what I need where I need it. It’s freeing really.
So here are some pictures that might just inspire you to do the same! Take it from me; you won’t regret this… if you are serious about it. Did I mention that I made it through the entire Anne of Green Gables three part dvd series while cleaning? Yeah, it was a good weekend.