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.

The Great Purge of 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.

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It started out looking like this.

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And this.

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And ended up looking like this.

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And this.

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Our fridge filled with friendly faces.

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It’s beautiful.

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organized on the man side too.

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Yes.

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Room to spare.

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This was a very cluttered space before. And so tiny!

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This was the phase I was least looking forward to. Craft supplies are a beast to go through!

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To give away.

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To throw away.

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Found this gem while cleaning out some of Matt’s things.

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Sentimental things.

5 Christmas Do’s and Dont’s

It’s that time of year. Matt and I are gearing up to make the long 11 hour trek back home to Arkansas. It’s been a long seven months since we’ve journeyed that far and I’m really excited to be back in that familiar place. As much as I’ve been preparing for Christmas with all the present buying, advent reading, trip planning, and party attending, I was reminded that I need to take a few minutes to prepare my heart to see my family.

This may seem strange, so let me preface by saying that I think I have the best family in the world and God has seen fit to let me marry into a wonderful family as well. But, it doesn’t matter how wonderful or godly or loving or caring your family is, there is always a potential for tension, arguments, hurt feelings, and resentment when you go home. I think back to my first Christmas three years ago after being married for all of 5 months. It’s like I went home and completely reverted back to my annoying, selfish, dramatic high school self. That didn’t make for an entirely pleasant break.

I’ve learned some things since then about myself and how to love my family well now that I’m a married adult living on my own. I know that my situation is not exactly like everyone else out there but I’m sure most people can relate to spending time with family over Christmas break. Here are a few nuggets of wisdom that I’ve picked up on and I pray they will continue to take root in my own heart as I prepare to go home this year.

  1. Get to know your family all over again. I do stay in touch with my family fairly regularly, but it’s different when you can’t always have those heart to heart talks in person. It’s good to sit down with parents, siblings, and grandparents and ask THEM what’s going on in THEIR world. So much of growing up had to do with me and my world. Now that I’ve grown and (hopefully) matured, I’m amazed at how much I can get to know my family as FRIENDS rather than “mom” or “dad” or that annoying little brother. (Who’s now a senior in college and has facial hair. Yikes!)
  2. When you are present with either side of the family- be all there. Don’t be looking at the clock or talking about what you will be doing with the other side in a day or two. Give undivided attention to those around you. Join in all the fun that is to be had without abandon. When you leave, you can then switch gears and the family that is left behind will feel like they received good quality time with you.
  3. Act like the adult you are. Don’t all of the sudden revert back to your old habits just because you are home. Let your family see you for who you are now. If there are old feelings of resentment for who you used to be, those feelings will start to die away once your family sees all that God has been doing in your life since you last met.
  4. Give them grace. Your family has missed you probably more than you will know. They will want to spend as much time with you as possible. When it feels overwhelming just remember that this probably won’t happen again for a while and in a few months you will be wishing you could grab lunch with Aunt Susie.
  5. Don’t talk bad about the other family. When you are with your parents, don’t talk bad about what so and so did on the in-law side and vice versa. This will only create tension where there doesn’t need to be any. Don’t bring up negative experiences or compare Christmas gift exchanges, or complain (or apologize) about having to leave and spend time with the other side.

Let me reiterate that I don’t have this all figured out and I’m sure to make mistakes. But I know that even spending a few minutes in prayer asking God to give me grace to love well and fully engage in the holidays with my family can go a long way. Let’s join in imitating the humble Christ-child who gave of himself so that others could know true joy, peace, and forgiveness found only in the good news of the gospel.

Proclaiming it Out Loud


Original_Marian-Parsons-Thanksgiving-Give-Thanks-Banner-Beauty1_s4x3So much to be thankful for. So very much. I look back over the last year, where we’ve come from, where we are headed from here. I’m bracing myself for this next year. It’s bound to be a doozey with fast paced changes and big decisions. But right now, I’m about to settle into my cozy apartment. Maybe turn on some music and begin to work on my cooking and baking for this year’s Thanksgiving festivities.

We didn’t go home. And yes, I feel a little sad without all that nostalgia and comfort. But we are creating new nostalgia and new memories right here in Louisville with our dear friends. It won’t always be like this so I’m cherishing the moments. It’s been a hefty semester. The kind where the husband is at our computer all nights of the week hashing away at a paper or slaving away on some 1000 page book. So I’ve busied myself with little things all the while waiting for it to end so we could go to bed at the same time. But God has been so good. We are in a rhythm. And before I know it, that rhythm will change. It always does. Still I soak in these days and nights and weeks.

I opened up my Bible last night and looked for Psalms and chapters that would turn my heart to thank my Lord. I opened to Psalsm 26:7- “Proclaiming your thanksgiving aloud and telling all your wondrous deeds.” Yes. And then Philippians 1:8- “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” I feel this for all the people God has put in my life and have shaped my life from near and far. And in verse 6- “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.” In this I rest. Even with all the decisions coming our way, we can face them because he already has our plan mapped.

Tonight and tomorrow, I pause to reflect not in any way different than what I should do on a daily basis but specifically so that my gaze would be heavenward as we walk these next steps into the Christmas season and beyond.

And with that I proclaim it out loud and breathe a prayer of Eucharisteao. Thanksgiving.