6 Things I’ve learned Since Being a Seminary Wife

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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.

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On Being an Intentional Mom

3I am surrounded by young mothers where we live- in our apartment complex, all over campus, at my church. New moms with joy and excitement on their faces on some days and exhaustion written there on other days. Around here, intentional parenting is the norm. Mother’s intentionally taking time for gospel moments with their children when they disobey or disrespect. Mothers reading scripture with their kids, praying with them, teaching them biblical truths. When I see this, my heart is warmed and encouraged. This too is what I long for if God chooses to bless us with children- to be able to share the good news of the gospel with my kids on a daily basis.

2Because there are days when I read news headlines and catch the latest stories on TV and I am prone to despair. In what kind of world will I be raising up future children? What kind of mom will I be if I myself am afraid of what’s out there? Oh but I remember that our Father has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound mind. And I look at those young moms and I see that it is possible to bring up godly children in this ungodly world.

1So here’s to mothers, my own included, who are sacrificing themselves on the altar of intentional parenting. You are raising adults, not children, to be ambassadors for Christ in the world, “soldiers of Christ in truth arrayed”. The way I understand it, any woman can give birth and be labeled a “mom”, but it takes a special woman, like Mary-called of God, to be an intentional, gospel-centered mom. I know enough to know that its not easy. But I also know that  it is a glorious, God-honoring, and rewarding task.

5When the days are tough, when the kids are defiant, when the messes won’t clean themselves, know young women like me are watching. We don’t need to see a perfect home, but we do need to see that it is possible to create a grace-filled, gospel-centered home. I’m thankful for my mom who sacrificed so much to stay home and raise us in this way and I’m thankful for other moms who are constantly showing me what it looks like to do this in the early years.

Thank you for being biblical women and godly mothers- setting the bar high, but by the grace of God not impossibly high

Photography by the great Kari Nichols.

What I Like Wednesday: Links

Here are a few links I have found over the last few day that I thought were share-worthy. I hope they are encouraging to you as they were to me. Enjoy!

Owen Strachan from The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood wrote a response to Rob Bell’s (not) surprising endorsement of gay marriage: Rob Bell, Homosexuality, and the New Cultural Acceptance

Remember this post about reading with discernment, well I thought this one piggy-backed well. It is a great post on how and why women should read books that cause them to go deeper into theological truths. I was convicted while reading it.
Why Women Should Read Commentaries

I think I want to print this one out and tape it next to my computer. I’m not single but I am a “workin’ woman” and these are truths I need to meditate on every.single.day. Such a grace-filled, encouraging post to working girls, whether single or married, in the home on in an office.
A Single Woman’s Perspective on A Women and Her Work

Matt directed me this is blog the other day. I was thankful. She writes clearly and honestly about her views on women in the church. They are spoken with conviction and passion and I applaud her. These are worth your time reading.
My Explicit Confession
A Painful Plea to Women in the Church
It’s Time to Speak 

Have you heard of Rosaria? If not, you need to read this. It’s a story about redemption, the gospel, and a woman’s personal journey from a lesbian English professor to a married mom of…many.
Journey of Grace

I stumbled upon this blog and thought it was share worthy. We women should care about these things. It’s important to know why you believe what you believe and be able to give a defense for the hope that is in you. This was encouraging to me to keep pressing into the things of God.
What is Apologetics and Why Should I Care? 

And finally, a gal named Emily (not me) wrote on purity and holiness related to the popular book 50 Shades of Grey. I am so thankful for her stand on purity. She is a mom of boys and therefore has a great perspective on this issue.
50 Shades of Grey- And Why its Black and White for Me

On Feminism and Being Used of God

Once again the tidal wave of Christian feminist bloggers has swept through the internet. Maybe you’ve seen it too. The voices are crying for freedom from gender roles, freedom from a life of insignificance and inferiority, and freedom from the things that, in their eyes, would keep them from being truly fulfilled. Sometimes it’s all I can do to walk away from the computer.

There’s nothing wrong in wanting to be fulfilled in life. There’s nothing wrong with living in freedom in Christ. There’s nothing wrong in wanting to use your gifts. What is wrong is when you cease to keep the inerrant Word of God as your standard by which you live and serve. If this is not the priority, it is so easy to form God into your own image in order to be used the way you want to be used.

You see, there will always be boundaries in your life. When I say boundaries, I mean God’s good design for men and women in the home and church. There are some things that God has specifically called men to, and some things God has uniquely called women to. And they are different, and they are good. This does not mean we women aren’t free. In fact, we are unique, different, and specifically designed for what God has called us to. We must rejoice in this and learn to flourish within God’s good parameters. He knows what will bring Him the ultimate glory and you the ultimate joy. Trust Him.

Also on the internet, some women have been voicing their feelings of being called to have more authority in the church, voicing the desire to be equal to men in all things. Dear sister, don’t let this confuse you. Don’t buy into the lie that just because you have a different role you are somehow less or inferior. This is hard for those of you who are natural leaders, who are natural proclaimers of truth. God knows your heart and He will allow you the opportunities to exercise the gifts he has given you all within his good parameters. You can and will be used but you must submit to God’s design.

And when it comes to freedom in Christ, yes He has set us free. But as Paul said, we cannot use our freedom to sin. We are not free from all social structures. We are not free from gender roles. We are not free from this sinful world. And before you start thinking that maybe those gender roles were never supposed to be and maybe they were in fact part of the fall, go back to Genesis yes, but look to Christ. He submitted to the Father. He was obedient to the Father.  He was humble and served. He is our example.

If you are struggling to know where and how to use your God given gifts, first rejoice in them because they are gifts of grace that are to be used to build up the Church. Second, find a church to serve in and serve faithfully. And in your church you will have men that God has called to lead week in and week out. Know that God’s requirements are challenging for those men and we should support them through prayer as they seek to lead the flock entrusted to them. And finally know this dear sister, if you are given the chance to lead or teach children and women young and old, know you are desperately needed. This is not less than. This is a magnificent calling.  Thank the Lord for it and be faithful in his service wherever he would have you.

Please take a few minutes to read Ashley’s wonderful posts on the defense of God’s good design:

Clinging to the Word

Christian Feminism

A Letter to my Sisters