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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Do the Next Thing

When you find yourself frozen with fear, plagued by insecurities, overwhelmed with life, or experiencing suffering, this poem is for you. The author is unknown, but it has been loved and used by many godly people through the years- Elisabeth Elliott being one of them. It’s one of her favorites and I often find myself quoting, “Do the next thing” in many different circumstances.

From an old English parsonage, down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, as it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the hours the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration–”DO THE NEXT THING.”

Many a question, many of fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King,
Trust them with Jesus, “DO THE NEXT THING.”

Do it immediately; do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His Hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all resultings, “DO THE NEXT THING.”

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,
(Working or suffering) be thy demeanor,
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing,
Then, as He beckons thee, “DO THE NEXT THING.”

– Author Unknown

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.

When You Want a Break

DSCN4952“I am so tired and I feel like I’m just now getting caught up on life after a crazy last two weeks. I’m just ready for things to be back to normal.”  “Honey, (in her sweet Mississippi accent) this is normal. And trust me, it doesn’t get any less crazy when you start having babies.” A young mom told me this in church on Sunday after I stated (whined) that I feel like I’m drowning in the craziness of life.

I could list all the things we’ve been up to to try and prove that my life is crazy and that you just don’t understand. But actually I think you do. Don’t we all have those times when the stress of everyday life coupled with a few things out of the ordinary pile up and make for a good amount of tears (if that’s how you relieve stress).

The day before, I had looked at Matt in the kitchen and said, “I just want a break from it all.” (This was said after a not-so-vacation-y trip to Florida for the Seminary.) The problem is (I’m learning) that as an adult you can’t always take a nap in between classes like the college days. You can’t just skip your last Friday class in order to hit the road for a weekend. You can’t take vacation days whenever you want. You can’t leave behind all responsibility to get away and sometimes that is a suffocating thought. So, I have to to choose to “get away from it all” even without physically getting away. These are some ways I have found that help…

Going to bed early- Sometimes you just need to leave the dishes in the sink and the clothes to be folded in order to get sleep. It’s amazing how a good night’s rest can change your whole outlook on life.

Taking walks outside- I am so glad spring is here. I love walking after work to get in exercise and to clear my head so I can be productive in my evening after a long day.

Reading a good light book- I love reading and often bog myself down with heavy reading from lots of books at one time. But sometimes it’s a good escape to plunge into an easy, lighthearted book. (Confession: I’m currently reading an Amish fiction book. Don’t judge.)

Taking a bubble bath– I love soaking in the tub after a long day, candles lit, listening to music or reading a book. It’s a way to drift away from the daily stress of life.

Painting my toenails- Ok I know this may seem silly, but I seriously love painting my toenails. No it’s not a pedicure from the spa but it’s a tiny way that I feel pampered and refreshed. I paint them in the living room while Matt is doing homework or if it’s nice outside, I will sit on our stairs with the sunshine on my back.

Let today be the day that you find a way to put the stress of life on the back burner and enjoy the little things around you.

Leave a comment below sharing some of your own creative ways you give yourself a break!