Golden and Noble Works

“A wife too should regard her duties in the same light, as she suckles the child, rocks and bathes it, and cares for it in other ways; and as she busies herself with other duties and renders help and obedience to her husband. These are truly golden and noble works."
Martin Luther

Friday, September 16, 2011

Read A Good Book Lately?

Kristi L. writes:

I’m always looking for a good book or two to read. Not that I have tons of leisure time, but it’s nice to have a book or two on hand when those rare moments appear.

Would you, ladies, please share some good suggestions? I’m thinking of several categories: best sellers, fiction, nonfiction, classical, biography, theology.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Welcome Baby Esther!

Just wanted to let all know that our new baby girl, Esther Muriel, was born on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 2:23 am, 6lbs, 14oz, 20in, healthy and home now. We are so blessed!

She will be brought to the waters of Holy Baptism on Sept. 25th.

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is Good and His mercy endures forever." Psalm 107:1

Friday, September 9, 2011

Seven Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before MWH's (My Wonderful Husband's) Ordination and Installation

Emily O. writes:

We've marked that sacred date known LCMS-universally as "Call Day" in the spring. Now we've heard about ordinations and installations of candidates all over the country (and maybe in your neighborhood) throughout the summer. Due to these blessed events, I've been thinking about my experiences with that stressful, awesome process and, well, some things I wish I would have known before my wonderful husband (MWH) and I headed out happily into the mission field. After a lot of head-scratching, I came up with this list.

A few clarifiers:

My husband and I (both non-pastor's kids, or "PKs" as the mostly fond acronym goes) and our growing family have enjoyed five years in a church that was his first call out of seminary. This hardly makes me some sort of pastor's wife expert to women who are married to men who are near, either direction, ordination and installation, but lots of you pastor's wives reading this have much more insight, experience, maturity, and patience than I do--so please add advice and comments below! Our sisters--future and perhaps present--will benefit.

There's no particular order to my list here. I wrote them as I thought of them, so don't take the numbering too seriously.

1. Your life as a pastor's wife is not like your life as a vicar's wife.

Our vicarage year was honestly like a year-long vacation. Yes, it held stresses and crosses, but mostly it held joy, much MUCH support, immediate and sustained friendships with people who loved us literally on sight. It was everything anyone could want in a vicarage--which is how vicarages should be; safe, learning experiences. But life at a church as a pastor and pastor's wife is very different. The timetable is different, the responsibilities (seen and unseen) are different, the stresses are far different. And this is good. It's real life! But you can't expect a replica of your vicarage. (And for those of you who had an awful vicarage, this is really good news!)

2. Your congregation needs time to get to know you...

That's "you" meaning your husband, "you" meaning you, and "you" meaning your entire family dynamic. I thought friendliness, vivacity, warmth, and learning people's names really fast would mean people would warm up to and trust me, and us, fairly quickly. For a few (like a handful), it did. For most, it didn't. After almost five years and some really, really tough times, people are starting to really open up to us. Congregations are full of--news flash!--sinners, and sinners have wildly different ways of approaching and trusting others. I've learned that most people have to see, literally, that others care, and at least in our situation, that meant seeing that we'd stick around long enough to prove that we weren't just looking for somewhere else to go. Three years is about the max for young pastors in our area, and we heard that a LOT from members and non-members. "You've been here three years? I guess you'll be moving on soon, huh?" said one local to us a few summers ago, not realizing how clearly she articulated what many people were thinking. And every congregation's time frame for getting to know you is different, too. But I'd guess it's almost always in the multiple years category, not the multiple months category.

3. ...and you need time to get to know your congregation.
I'm an outgoing person, and I'll have one terrific conversation with someone and think I really "get" them. I guess this is good in its own way. But it's not great for applying the time rule. The first people who really reached out to us when we first arrived--invited us over, helped us out a lot--are terrific people. In our case, they also were the ones who wanted certain actions or acquiescence from my husband that later turned into problems and, subsequently, a much more impersonal relationship with both of us. That was hard for us, and me in particular, who thought we were all friends! At the same time, people who were friendly but a little distant to us initially have become more and more close to us over the years. And I've learned that learning about people and what they're like over time--like, YEARS--is probably best. You want to try to meet everyone anyway (if that's possible for you), and you'll need lots of time for that. And it's nice to age with your congregation. It's special. You suffer together, you joy together. But none of that happens during a 30-second commercial break.

4. Together with your husband and family, establish what formal church involvement you will have.

I heard this from veteran pastors' wives before we arrived here, and this has proved invaluable. Many wives learn to say "no" after years of struggling with too much responsibility in the parish. It's much easier if you start out with certain parameters in place--that is, you stay uninvolved for at least six months, then converse with your husband and family, then slowly begin getting involved.

The opinion of most importance in determining your (and your children's, for that matter) involvement is your husband's. This is an extremely controversial thing to say, even to traditionally conservative Lutheran women! But this is true. Your husband is the pastor. He will know the church people and the various church organizations far better than you, even if you tag along with him frequently. He also knows you! I have been blessed by a husband who, at times, has told me he wants me to do something that I don't think I want to do, but, after doing it, I realize that it is for the best. He also has told me what organizations or participation he thinks I should NOT get involved with. He has saved me from much frustration and hardship and heartache by helping me say "no." So talk to your wonderful husbands and trust them! Then you can muddle through together.

I have found, as a mother with young children, that some of my most meaningful "involvement" is not formal; it happens with the occasional visit with shut-ins, sharing conversation with people over coffee at various church events (even really informal ones), standing in hallways (or store aisles) and updating, talking on the phone. We like to entertain and have people over, which we're not able to do as often as when we first arrived, but I recognize that my involvement at church--just like my life as a wife and a mother--will change over time and with circumstances. Yours will, too.

5. Your husband needs you to be his wife (and your children's mother) before he needs you to do anything else for him.

Not church involvement, not community involvement, not continuing your education, not advancing your career. Not anything else. This is controversial--and if I'd heard a pastor's wife say it five years ago I know I would have been offended. I thought then that I could do pretty much everything in my life well if I had the chance to prove it. That was laughably naive. Here's what I've learned: if you desire your husband to be faithful, to be dedicated, and to persevere through hardship, he needs you to be his rock at home. My husband says he does not regret that I went back to school almost as soon as we moved here and that I spent our first three years in the parish immersed in a graduate program. I can't change it now (and I'm not going to give back the fancy piece of paper I got for it, at any rate). But I look back, and for many reasons, I wish I would have waited. The most important reason I wish I would have waited was because I think my husband missed receiving my full support because my energy and focus were divided between him and our life at church and my own studies and teaching. Maybe other women can balance this successfully. I know that he, and actually both of us, lost opportunities in those years to talk and support each other in our marriage. Now I realize that my life revolves around my husband's need for my support--which has already changed over the last few years as he's learned a lot!--and our family. If God wills for me to pursue a career outside the home at some point, I pray He makes it really obvious to me and to my husband. In the meantime, I know He is strengthening our marriage by drawing us closer together as a family. And that can only benefit us--and the church!--in the long run.

6. Life is now in a fishbowl. Therefore, get a father confessor--for your sake and your husband's sake.

Vocations cross now in ways they don't elsewhere. It's not just that people can see what you do and judge you accordingly; you will be held to higher standards that can be unfair. It's also that your own individual lives get bound up in your husband's vocation as pastor. You can't go anywhere--especially in a small town--without knowing you'll be seen as a (or "the"!) pastor's wife. This is a sacrifice of individual autonomy for you that's inevitable. And you will resent it at times, and this comes out most often as resentment and frustration toward your husband--for not having enough time or energy for you or your children, for not making enough money, for not being in a field that gives you "me" time, whatever. And because of this, you need to find a father confessor, a pastor you can talk to or call to confess your resentment, frustration, selfishness, and all those other sins and receive forgiveness without having specific spousal issues get in the way.

My husband and I have relied sporadically upon a pastor that served as a mentor for my husband before his seminary days as a father confessor. We both have called him at different times; he's listened to our confessions and given us absolution. When we are in his area (he's in another state), we visit with him and his wife. I think a more regular pattern would benefit us, but for now, this is what we have and it is a blessing.

7. Be patient and pray for contentment.

I hate this one, because I'm impatient and a control freak. But God is teaching me patience over time, and in the process He is drawing me closer to Himself. Here's how it might play out for you:

You might love your congregation and want to stay forever--and God might call your husband elsewhere right when you think everything is how you want it. You might want nothing better than to move one thousand miles away--and God might want your husband to serve where you are for years--maybe a few decades. You might wonder why your husband doesn't seem to be doing as a pastor what you think he should be doing. You might wonder how your husband can be working so hard and trying so hard to pastor people and they don't seem to want his service, care for it, or accept it unless it's on their terms. But God wants your husband and you in this particular place. You might not know why now or ever, but He does. He also knows how much you both can handle, and if you are struggling with burdens that seem unbearable, He will guide you out of them. Sometimes this happens with time, or with another call, or with a resignation and a life elsewhere.

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but many pastors and their wives suffer from depression. I understand now why the percentage of ministers and families who suffer from this is so much higher than in the general population. And I thank God He provides us with loving friends, experts, and resources to deal with this. Depression and its iterations are not weaknesses borne by the less-than-stalwart among us. They are crosses God, in his mysterious, infinite wisdom, that try our patience, test our commitment, and ultimately draw us closer to Him. And we can be thankful, even with the awfulness of mental illness, that He walks with us in this, too.

God also gives us joys as pastors' wives that far outweigh the burdens. The burdens can be hard, extremely hard. But you will witness countless examples of Christ's love from members to your husband, to you, to your children and maybe even your extended family. You will be privy to baptisms, catechizing and confirmations, weddings, funerals of saints called to glory. You will see Christ loving people from conception until death. Real life, real, intense, overwhelming love from our Savior to your dear congregation. And you get to witness it every week, every day. This is a miracle. Few people share this perspective--and those who do, like other pastor's wives, understand what you suffer and what you joy. And we are here for you!


A pastor's wife enjoys a wonderful vocation. For those sisters struggling in this vocation, take heart. Christ has already overcome the world for you. For those sisters just starting in this vocation, take heart. Christ knows the plans He has for you, and your husband, and your family--plans to prosper you and not to harm you! I, and so many others, am excited for what lies ahead for you. May God keep you in His wonderful grace always!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

He Remembers the Barren

Kristi L. writes:

Katie Schuermann – a dear friend of mine – has written and published a book. It is entitled He Remembers the Barren and is published by Lutheran Legacy. I have read the book and am ordering more copies to share with others. The subject of barrenness has long been a dark topic for women and married couples. Katie has brought the subject to light and addressed it beautifully. She talks about the issue of control in one’s fertility, as well as the decisions to be made when barren, and also reminds the reader of the blessings God has already given.

Dear friends, If you know someone who is barren, this book will be a source of encouragement and comfort to her. Katie’s book shares stories of women who struggle with barrenness and how God still cares for her. Also, what do you say to someone who is barren? This book will help you comfort your loved one. Your pastor will appreciate this book as a resource for barren couples, to whom he gives counsel. Your OB/GYN will benefit from reading this book as well, helping the barren woman to rejoice in the blessings already given to her. You can order a copy of the book here -

Katie is also the administrator of the website He Remembers the Barren, and I am privileged to be one of the web-hosts with Katie. This site is for the barren woman. Please consider sharing this website with your loved ones.

Katie will also be doing a book tour this fall. You can find out more about Caring for the Barren Woman here -

If you know of people in those areas who might benefit from hearing Katie and Rebecca, please encourage them to attend. Katie is also in the process of organizing a similar tour for parts of Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota in early November, and I’ll be joining her on that tour.

Most of all, I would beg your prayers for the barren woman. She hurts deeply and carries a heavy burden. May she receive comfort from Jesus Christ, her Lord and Savior.