Shepherdess

Shepherdess

Rowan Speaks

Being a Shepherdess

I have the joy and privilege and responsibility of being a pastor's wife.  Yes, I said "being a pastor's wife" and not "being married to a pastor."

At one time my husband and I had a flock of over 300 sheep.  Literal sheep.  While being a shepherd helped to prepare Moses for being a leader and David for being a king, being a shepherdess has helped to prepare me for being a pastor's wife.

In my travels and, especially when I first became a pastor's wife (officially), I would ask two questions to every pastor's wife that I met along the way:

What do you love most about being a pastor's wife? and

What is your greatest challenge being a pastor's wife?

So far ladies either answer the question with their greatest joys and challenges or they become affronted and ask what does that have to do with them?  After all, it's their husband's career, not theirs!

My years as a shepherdess taught me that we have an important role to play in the life of the flock, whether it is our primary career or not.  When the shepherd needed help with lambing ewes or newborn lambs, it was the shepherdess who helped.  When the shepherd was away, the shepherdess fed the flock or delivered the lambs.  When hypothermic lambs needed to be taken in, it was into our home.  When care of the flock would take the shepherd out and away at all hours, the shepherdess would have to make a sacrifice for the good of the flock and hold down the fort at home. She could either resent the shepherd or join in with full support as part of a joint endeavour. 

Scripture speaks to the important role that all women have in the body of Christ, in addition to their individual giftedness.  Titus 2:3-5 outlines it for us:

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine.  They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husands, that the word of God may not be reviled." (ESV)

But the wives of elders/pastors and deacons have some verses of qualification that would indicate to me that it is indeed a role within the church:

"Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things."I Tim.3:11 (ESV)

Why do we resist the concept of the pastor's wife as a role in the church?  As I have considered that, some ideas come to mind.

One reason might be that we consider the role of pastor to be a career, and not a calling or spiritual gift.  In that case, there would be no reason for the spouse to identify with the role.

Another reason is that when the pastor's wife is seen as fulfilling the role, the church can put a lot of expectations on the wife that are beyond what God may be requiring.  If the wife is so busy giving the church "Two for the Price of One," she may not have time to embrace the season of life she is in with young children, or serve according to her personal giftedness.  While I am so grateful my husband has the freedom to pastor full-time, churches have historically underpaid their pastors.  This has resulted in their wives having to work outside the home to pay the bills, and then work a second, unpaid job at the church. I saw a day planner for pastor's wives and it had an entire section on how to clean the church!  A generation of PK's was lost to the kingdom because parents were so busy serving the church they neglected their own children. Separating ourselves from the calling or role has been one way of trying to put boundaries in place to prevent these problems.

I also thought that independent wives may want to have their own identity apart from the church or her husband's career.  The Proverbs 31 wife had a flourishing business yet her husband was in leadership.  In many ways her independence and diligence freed him up to be able to confer with the elders in the gates (places of leadership). Her kindness and hard work was a real blessing to her husband, who called her "blessed."

I have one friend who loves to introduce me to her unchurched friends with "...and she's a pastor's wife!" As I see their eyes widen with a bit of concern I always make light of it by interjecting, "At least let them like me first before you tell them that!" and they all laugh and it's okay.

So what do I love most about being a pastor's wife and what do I find to be the greatest challenge?  While my answers would vary from day to day, today I would say that one great joy is that I have the opportunity to pray with people and care for them, and to minister especially to the women and children of the church (ewes and lambs).  The greatest challenge is to remember that, while I have influence, I do not have authority.  It is difficult when my husband is misunderstood or there are issues in the church because it affects our lives more thoroughly than issues at other "work" would. Our church is so great at not placing any unreasonable expectations on me or our children and they appreciate what I do to help, so that has not been a problem for us.

It may surprise you that I vowed I would never marry a pastor when I was a young person.  You see, I wasn't "cut out" for being a pastor's wife.  I am too outspoken and I don't play the piano.  And I didn't want people putting expectations on me or my children to be perfect and well-presented at all times.

God has been so good to show me that I was wrong about that.  I was putting expectations on pastor's wives in thinking they had to be quiet and play the piano. Now I see that it is a great privilege and opportunity to first of all be a helpmeet to my husband, but also to work shoulder to shoulder with him in advancing the kingdom of God.  If that means caring for ewes and lambs and praying with someone when he can't come to the phone, so be it!

I just have to be careful to invest in my own family and help manage our household well in the process and realize that a woman's life is a series of seasons.  We can't do it all or have it all...at one time.  Pray that I would get the balance, and I am praying for you, too.

Waist Management Update and Encouragement

 

 We are four weeks into the Waist Management challenge.  It has been difficult, but the accountability has been so helpful. I think when this challenge is over I will suggest some follow-up accountability, maybe on a monthly basis. I need it! After all, I’ve lost 100 lbs over the last several years- the same 10-20 over and over again.

The first two weeks went very well.  I saw rapid weight loss, my goals were being met, and it was great.  Week three I only worked out twice instead of thrice.  I had the flu and you would think that not eating for two days would cause some weight loss. No.  Breaking my fast at Crabby Joe’s may have hindered my progress (you think?)  but I tried to stick to protein and veggies. No weight loss, and there were hormonal cycles at work! The female body is a fascinating creation. Week four saw some more weight loss and exercise happening.  So now I am about halfway to my goal.

When I say I have lost weight, it’s really that I have lost weight, gained weight, lost some more, gained some, and lost some.  All the while breaking my rule not to step on the scale daily. This is normal and the key is to have a net loss at the end of the week.

If you have reached a plateau in your weight loss, here are some tips to help you that I have learned along the way.

First, if you are exercising and eating healthier, then you are giving your body great benefits whether you lose weight or not.  Studies show that regular exercise even in small quantities makes a big difference in your long-term health.

If you are exercising more, you may have built muscle.  This is good! In the long run this will help you burn even more calories, but may not show a net weight loss right away.

Change up your workout, or use the “Interval” setting on your exercise equipment rather than the same routine.  Your body is designed to adapt to your exercise, and if you do the same thing over and over again the amount of effort needed will diminish.  You need to catch your muscles “by surprise” so they have to adapt continually.

Make sure you are taking vitamins and minerals.  In a perfect world we shouldn’t need to but our food is far from perfect.  Certain trace vitamins and minerals, for example, aid in the metabolism of fat and if you aren’t getting enough, that could be a hindrance to progress.

Add some weights to your routine.  Muscle burns more calories, and the greater your muscle mass, the more calories are being burned.  Building muscle helps you lose fat.

Consider your digestion. As we age, we have less digestive enzymes in our system.  We can aid our digestion by eating foods like grapefruit and pineapple with our other food, or by taking cider vinegar (“with the mother”=with the enzymes), or digestive enzyme supplements. 

Think about your calories.  All calories are not created equal.  For example, an avocado is high in calories and healthy fat.  We might avoid it because of its caloric content, but it is less likely to be stored on our body than some multigrain bread with the same caloric value. (More about this in another blog)

Get more sleep! We can only dream about this one, but lack of sleep inhibits weight loss.

Plan a reward for yourself. It is surprising how the first thing we think about is a food reward.  This is part of the problem! Plan a non-food reward when you reach a milestone along the way.

Go to God.  Part of our problem with eating is that we use food for comfort, to handle stress, because we are bored, or for many reasons other than for nutrition. We can ask Him for help and strength.

Thanks! I needed that!

(While Rowan has a degree in Physical and Health Education, her advice is not meant to take the place of a doctor’s. Please always consult your physician before beginning any exercise regimen or taking dietary supplements) 

Teaching Young Children About God

 

A friend recently asked me about the best way to teach her young children about God.  She had a devotional book that she was reading to them at bedtime, but wondered what else could she be doing?

What a blessing to know a mom who wants to learn and grow and teach her children about God! Maybe some of this advice will be helpful to others as well, so here’s what I would tell her.  Keeping in mind that I have not successfully finished raising my four children yet, I am happy to point to some scriptures that are helpful and inspired by the One who created children!

The best method that I have heard of for teaching children about God is the full immersion method! It can be found in the Bible in Deuteronomy chapter 6:6-9. I will quote it here:

“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be frontals on your forehead.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

(Deut.6:6-9, NASB)

The first and most important section tells us that we need to have God’s words in our OWN hearts.  But don’t be discouraged if you don’t know very much.  You just need to know a little more than your little ones do, and continue to grow from there.  Sometimes the responsibility to teach others is a great motivation to learn ourselves.  Remember it’s not just facts about God, but having a relationship with Him through His son, Jesus.  If we have that, the Bible says the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth (John 14)

The next point is that we need to teach God’s words diligently to our children.  What does diligent mean to you? I think it means to have a plan and be consistent and determined.  It’s the opposite of “winging it” or being casual about it.

Then we are given examples of times when we need to do it.  When we sit in the house, when we are walking, when we lie down and when we rise up. Some specific examples or ideas for this can be things like, when we are sitting in the house, just mentioning things we have to thank God for like our comfortable couch.  Sitting at meal times is a good time to pray and thank God for the food and all our blessings.  We can read picture books about Bible stories like Noah and the Ark, or the Prodigal Son.  We can be sure to include videos that reinforce biblical concepts such as Veggie Tales, What’s in the Bible, or CedarMont Kids.  We can listen to a song that praises God and dance around the kitchen.

For many of us in this day and age, when we are walking often translates into when we are driving somewhere.  We can put on a Christian music or story CD.  Or we can just talk about what we read in the Bible that morning.  Or we can talk about the character trait that we are trying to develop in our children that week (or lifetime!) and what God’s word says about it.  But if we are actually out for a walk, it’s a great time to point to the wonders of God’s creation and say, “Isn’t it amazing how God made the …”.

One practice I have used is the ”Stop, drop and PRAY” principle. With your little ones you can pray about EVERYTHING.  If they are scared, you can pray to God with them about it.  If they hurt themselves, you can give them a prayer along with the bandage.  If you can’t find your keys, pray about it and then give God the glory when they are found! Before they head out for school, you can pray over them for safety and wisdom.

My friend is already diligently teaching the children when they “lie down” by reading with them and praying with them.  This is a great time to process the day with God.  And when we rise up we can sing a praise song or even simply declare “Good morning, God!”

Binding God’s words as frontlets speaks to me of having it as a priority in your mind and in your focus.  And putting it on your doorposts and gates gives the practical idea of having scriptural wall art or inspiring quotations around your home to help you focus on spiritual things.

There is a commandment of God that specifically speaks to our children, and if we diligently work on this one with them and train their will, God will be able to bless them in their future lives.  It’s the fifth commandment, “Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” (Exodus 20:12 NASB) It’s explained also in the New Testament this way:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1)

Even three year-olds can be taught to memorize this verse.  I taught my little ones to “obey right away, all the way, in a happy way” and made up a little song to remind them: “I am happy to obey yes Mom X2, I am happy to obey, I’ll obey you right away,I am happy to obey yes Mom” (to the tune of If you’re happy and you know it). Their wills need to be trained so that having learned to obey you when they are young, they will find it easier to obey God when they get older.

I would also add that if your husband is not a Christian, you still need to be respectful of him when it comes to these things and have a humble attitude.  In your prayers you can also thank God for your husband and his diligence and hard work to provide for the family, for example.  If he doesn't want a huge scripture mural on the wall you can ask if you can put a small framed verse on an occasional table instead. He will be won over by your kind attitude far more than you insisting on your own way.

May God bless you as you grow in relationship with Him and teach His ways diligently to your children!

Waist Management Challenge Accepted

 

In her blog on Waist Management, my friend Megan is documenting her goals of improving fitness and losing weight and her progress towards them. She challenged readers to set some goals and together we could build accountability into our plan. As an extrovert, I find the extrinsic motivation to be very helpful.

I know what I have to do to get fit and lose weight.  It’s the accountability that I need.  Challenge accepted!

So my goal for the first week was to exercise twice, drink 2L of water per day, and eat a high protein, low carb diet (and stay away from refined sugar!).  I was able to go snowshoeing twice with my daughter and use the treadmill once.  I have lost 4 lbs so far.  My overall goal is to lose 15 lbs by the end of April. Feel free to ask me how it’s going.

Today was a tough one.  Didn’t get on the treadmill first thing and then dental appointments and work brought me home late for lunch.  I confess that I was fondly eyeing up the all-natural cheddar cheese heart-shaped doggy treats that I keep in the van for the dogs of my delivery clients. Must… be… strong. Was it going to be lethargy 1 treadmill zero?

We all have different lifestyles and challenges to being in shape.  I am a wife and mother of four who homeschools and runs a business, in addition to a bit of volunteering and speaking that I do “on the side”. My discretionary time is limited.  I love getting up at 7 am but not before, if you know what I mean!  Perhaps your work takes you outside the home full-time, or you are able to work part-time from home while your children are at school.

Let’s encourage one another to set realistic goals for our life and our season of life. Our goals are our own and we don’t have to compare them to the goals of others. I decided to start blogging about this because maybe you’d like some encouragement or a healthy recipe to try that I use when I’m trying to get a handle on my waist management (read: 2 handles OFF!”).

Challenge Accepted. Today turned out to be Treadmill 1, lethargy ZERO! And spinach salad with tuna won over doggy treats, I am happy to say.

In the first few days of avoiding sweets and starches, it’s normal for cravings to be really strong.  Here is a recipe that is very nutritious for you to try:

 No Cook Chocolate Pudding (100% nutritious ingredients)

2 ripe avacodoes, 3 bananas, handful of dates (or 4 tbsp agave nectar or honey), pinch of sea salt, 1/3 cup cocoa or carob powder, water as needed to thin

Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor (bananas and avocadoes first) until smooth and creamy

Chill.  Enjoy in a half cup serving. This is great for the evening when you are craving sweets or a snack.  I gave it to my kids and husband and they didn’t guess it had avocadoes!

 

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