Friday, May 31, 2013

Where's the Book for Me?

I got a very lovely surprise in the mail today from the North American Mission Board (NAMB). It contained a Visa card for $100, a drawstring backpack, and a book. I am very appreciative for the gifts, but even more grateful from the denominational organization that sent them. While I don't think there is any one perfect denomination and I certainly don't agree with Southern Baptist "customs" on some issues (e.g., role of women in the church, drinking alcohol), I do think that there are things that the Southern Baptist Convetntion (SBC) does with great excellence. These are the things that make me proud to be Southern Baptist. The way that the SBC equps, trains, and supports missionaries, ministers, and church planters through the NAMB and the International Mission Board is one of these many things. I might discuss that in more detail on a later post.

While I am thankful for the gifts I received today and I know that I am prayed for by people I have never even met, I flipped through the book and thought about how it pretty much doesn't apply to me, as a church planter's wife, at all. In fact, as I reflected on the "popular" Christian mommy-bloggers and speakers of the current time, I realized that they don't write books for me either. I'm talking about the Jen Hatmakers, Rachel Held-Evans, and Ann Voskamps. While I am often challenged, encouraged, inspired, frustrated, and even made to laugh or cry by their writing, they are all women who spend their time either a) in their homes being PWs, bloggers, writers, homeschoolers, and/or chaffeurs to public schoolers or b) out on the occasional speaking circuit. There aren't me and they aren't really writing for women like me. I work full-time outside of the home (and like it!) AND am married to a church planter/pastor.

I did spend many years as a stay-at-home mommy, which evolved into a work-at-home mommy, then to work part-time outside the home mommy, to my current status of full-time work outside the home mom. I had not worked full-time since our first son was born in 1994 until we moved to Wisconsin to plant a church in 2007. It was quite frankly, a shock to my system to start working outside the home. It was exhausting and exhiliarating and overwhelming and fun and chaotic and frustrating and a huge learning curve. And the reason I was working full-time? So that my husband COULD become a church planter!

Just when we started feeling a pull to church planting and moving somewhere (anywhere) out of the Bible belt, we realized that I would be finishing my Ph.D. I had no grand, elaborate plans for after my doctorate--just figured I would continue with my part-time job as a speech-language pathologist. I had always wanted to try teaching college though, so God showed us that He could use church planting and my new educational credentials to pave the way. The whole story is here. Basically, we were able to move over 1000 miles away from family, friends, and a life that we knew to plant a church in a city where we knew no one without financial devastation because of the fact that I would be working full-time. During our intensive weeklong church planting interview process, we were told time and time again that Robert needed to be able to devote all of his time to researching the community, developing and nurturing relationships, and church planting logistics/planning. Since our kids were in school full-time, in the 5th and 8th grades, and Robert would have a very flexible schedule, we mutually agreed that I would work so that we wouldn't have to stress over the significant financial risks that come with church planting. We both love what we are doing and it works well for us.

Ah, but here's the rub! The Church Planting Wife book doesn't address me. It is written for SAHMs and full-time PWs. In the chapter, "The Church Planting Wife's Job Description," (which thankfully states that there isn't one and shouldn't be one), Christine Hoover writes:
...I must proactively structure and plan my days in order to fulfill my calling. I am a disciple first, so God gets my early mornings. I am a wife second, so I must protect and plan evenings, weekends, and special retreats for Kyle and me to connect and rest. I am a mom third, which means my children have my undivided attention duing their nonschool hours. Finally, I maintain certain time slots each week that I can meet with other women or prepare for ministry events,, as well as give some evenings to hospitality or community groups.

If her calling is to be a church planter's wife, then that's great. However, my calling is to be a wife to Robert the man, not Robert, the church planter. He is called to church planting. I am called to be his helpmate. And for us, at this time, that means working outside the home...which is my calling. My vocation, for which I am fortunate enough to be paid, is my calling, my ministry, along with my calling as a wife and mother . I have so many opportunities to extend the love and hope of Christ to colleagues, students, and clients just in my daily interactions. I don't hand out tracts to them and preach. I just try to interact, as best I can, with others as I think Jesus would.

While I would like to structure my days to fulfill my calling, the reality is that I too often don't spend time with Jesus in the morning or eat breakfast. Sometimes I have and ongoing mental Twitter conversation with God throughout the day and other times, I just manage to fall asleep praying in bed at night. I rush out the door, drop my son off at school, and work all day. I get home around 5ish most days and cook a meal from scratch 70% of the time. Other days, Robert or the boys cook, we eat leftovers, or we eat out. I sometimes skip small group on Wednesday because I have a community agency board meeting or am too behind in grading papers or writing a proposal. Since my marriage is a partnership, Robert and I both plan dates and time away--it is not my sole responsibility (although I do love playing travel agent). And my children usually get my divided attention as we run errands or prepare meals together. However, as I have discovered with teenage boys, busy hands create talkative mouths. They share much more when we are busy doing something. Oh! And I am way behind on reciprocal invitations for dinner ( we "owe" at least 4 couples), I am terrible about returning texts/calls on my cell, and I am not an event coordinator for our church. Is there a book out there that covers this? As my fellow full-time-working-to-support-a-church-planting-husband friend, Lea Ann said, "Maybe we should write one." Indeed.

So how do I support my husband in ministry? I pray for him, I listen to him vent, I create a safe place for him to be him. I also pick up college students for church each Sunday, I bake treat for the hospitality once a month, and I am starting nursery duty once a month. I don't do any more than any other church member. At the end of the day, I just want to make Jesus proud of me for how I have managed my home-life, my work-life and my relationships with others. Nothing more, nothing less.


1 comment:

  1. You should write that book for all the "me's" out there just like you!