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.

Susannah Spurgeon on Libraries and Love

1“The best room became the library. ‘We never encumbered ourselves’, said Mrs. Spurgeon, ‘with what a modern writer calls “the draw-back of a drawing room”, perhaps for the good reason that we were such homely, busy people that we had no need of so useless a place- but more especially, I think, because the best room was always felt to belong by right to the one who “labored much in the Lord”. Never have I regretted this early decision; it is a wise arrangement for a minister’s house, if not for any other.'” (pg 156)

“But I verily believe that when I join him, “beyond the smiling and the weeping”, there will be tender remembrances of all these details of earthly love and of the plenitudes of blessings which it garnered in our united lives. Surely we shall talk of all these things in the pauses of adoring worship and joyful service. There must be sweet converse in heaven between those who loved and suffered and served together here below. Next to the rapture of seeing the King in his beauty and beholding the face of him who redeemed us to God by his blood, must be the happiness of the communion of saints in that place of inconceivable blessedness which God has prepared for them that love him.'” (pg 180)

And with that, Mrs. Spurgeon, I heartily agree.

*excerpts taken from: Free Grace and Dying Love/The Life of Susannah Surgeon: Morning Devotions by Susannah Spurgeon

Perspective and Priorities

1I had to weigh it all…see where my heart was after a long, busy semester. I am so privileged to be where I am right now. Working a great job, growing in knowledge, part of a loving Church family, enjoying being a wife. All of this is good. But somewhere down the line this last half, I grew weary. I grew weary of pushing things to the back burner and so God changed my perspective of what’s important.

I stepped back and pondered what I wanted to be doing with my life right here, right now. God does that. The things we think are important at one point become less important in light of a heart shift. He causes our hearts to shift with the tide. Going to and fro in his perfect timing. I believe I needed to have a semester of learning, digging hard into the books, pushing myself, expanding my knowledge and having something to focus on. But that same focus has become even clearer as I think about less time in the books and more time with living breathing souls. This is where I’m at. Saying no to one thing to be available to say yes to more things.

Now, with a more open schedule and a more directed focus of home, church, and work, I feel simplified and directed. I want to put my knowledge to use. I want to take charge of my home. I want to support my husband in his crazy busy schedule. I want to be able to commit to service at my local church. And maybe one day I will come back to some of what I am saying no to right now, but what I am leaving off for now will make room for more. And all of this is good.

A Year in Review

A few things I have learned in the past year…….

  1. I need to be on my knees. There is no way I can be a godly wife apart from utter, desperate, humility before the Lord. In the last year, weaknesses I didn’t really think were an issue have become very blatant. Thanks be to God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ for a husband that tenderly directs me to the truth and grace of God. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have faults but, I have also realized along those same lines that I am the only person that I can change by the grace of God. I once heard it said that true sanctification does not mean that you become a better Christian and sin less but you realize how deeply sinful you are and how in need of Savior you really are.
  2. It takes time. Meal planning and grocery shopping does not come easy to me. I want to start making traditions NOW! I want to have a “Taco Tuesdays” and homemade pizza every Friday night. It takes time to get into a Life Rhythm. Every semester changes for us as far as Matt’s schedule, what ministries we are involved in at Church etc. I have had to learn flexibility. At the same time, we both desire some normalcy to life, things we can count on like: dinner at home, walks at night, cleaning routines, work out times. It’s hard to keep up with it all while trying to develop deep, meaningful relationships with people at church and on campus as well as putting significant time into our marriage. It’s a balance. And who am I kidding. I know it will only get more difficult with kids and full time ministry work. This season was given to us for a reason. We need to learn these lessons now as well as learn how we, the Tyler’s, need balance in our lives. It will only benefit us down the road.
  3. We are poor. I have never been one to worry too much about money…probably to a fault. But, when you get married, your money is not your own. I have found myself upset when I hear that Matt has bought a book without asking me first. However, when it comes to eating out, I’m easily roped in. God has been so good to us, providing at every turn. We are not in want or need. And it does me good to have my affections turned away from material things, away from comparison, away from coveting and toward an all satisfying God.
  4. Contentment. After all the hype of a wedding, a move, a new job, a new church, new friends dies down…then what? Life. That’s what. There have been several instances in my life that I have had to learn contentment but each time is a different circumstance with a different facet of the same lesson. This season of my life is no different. But here’s the deal: if I can’t learn contentment in THIS season, how will I ever be content in any other season? I can’t afford to waste my energy on discontentment when I have all I need or want right in front of me. In the end, it’s all about perspective. And in the digital age where everyone has a blog, twitter, instagram, it’s easy to compare and become dissatisfied with life. Seeking contentment in ALL circumstances tends to be a repeated lesson whether its in the context of our jobs, situation in life, or just our desires (godly or not). What’s the antidote? Gratitude. God and His goodness is all around us all the time. We just have to step outside of ourselves sometimes to be reminded of that.
  5. Isolation is a danger. This is not usually a danger to me since I am such a people person. But I can see the danger of it after you move to an entirely new place with no friends and then trying to being a life with a new spouse. The point of this lesson is that I have had to be intentional with people: asking them to lunch, having couples over for dinner, getting involved with campus life and church life, not just being a student or a pew sitter. To get the roots to go deep, even in this short season, (and I might argue that this season may be the most important time to establish roots) requires vulnerability, discomfort, self consciousness, and maybe even rejection. Now is a time to feel out what/where God is calling you to. This is where you begin to network (which is very important), where you create your circle of influence that will possibley take you all over the world.
  6. Church is a must. I am a church girl…always have been. I didn’t realize how important it was to be a part of a church until we went through the church search here. I eventually got to a place where I was tired of looking and just wanted to belong! We finally were led to Third Ave. Baptist Church. I praise the Lord for this. We tell people how much we love being at Southern but then follow it up quickly with how much we LOVE 3rd and how it’s been one of the best things about moving here and will probably be one of the hardest things to leave. I could probably write a whole blog post about why we love 3rd but I will stop here…keep the intrigue. Just ask me sometime and I will tell you. There is a vast amount of “healthy” churches here and honestly you can’t go wrong. We have been telling every new person we come into contact with how important it is to find a church and find it quickly. Don’t take all semester to find one. Don’t be too picky. Just find one where you can get fed and where you can serve. It is such a sweet blessing.
  7.  Date nights are key. We haven’t really been consistent with this until recently. Sure we spend a lot of time together. We relax on the couch at night, we take walks, we go shopping, we do fun things around the city. But those things aren’t really one-on-one intentional relationship building and going deeper. Matt decided we needed a consistent, weekly date night. Now I know, this may not be possible forever, especially if we have kids one day. Right now though, it is very important to keep the line of communication open between us. We are not pros at this, still just learning. But it has been a good (and easy and fun) lesson for us. I have to admit that at first I kind of complained that I would have to schedule one.more.thing  into my already crowded week. But seriously, if I can’t “schedule” time with my husband and best friend then I am too busy! I am thankful for a husband that wants to date me and really enjoys planning our date nights. I am also thankful for Groupon which helps him plan our date nights.

PS- I’ve been really bad at posting pics. My old computer was just so frustrating to upload and it took forever. So I haven’t. BUT we have a new Mac (which I am in love with and thankful to the Lord for) and I plan on uploading all our summer pics soon…if I can just figure out how…