Help! My Pastor/Ministry Husband Works Full-Time Part 2

When a man is called to a ministry and needs to have a full-time job to meet the needs of his family then it changes the family dynamic. We’re continuing on with Part 2 with things we, as ministry wives, can do to be able to think about and do if our husbands are divided between work and ministry. (You can read Part 1 here.) In this article you’ll find three more points to help you be able to not only survive, but thrive, Lord willing in times when time is compartmentalized between church, family, and our husband’s job.

Make Family Time Golden Time

Treat your family time like it is the “golden” hour(s) of the day. Plan your day around the time of the day in which your husband will be home to spend the bulk of his time with you and your children. If he has time around a specific meal of the day, then have that meal ready to go so you can all sit down and enjoy your meal together. Make your schedule revolve around keeping your family in tune with their father’s influence and ministering to each other.

Unify your family unit during times he is available by shutting out activities that would separate you from having a hearty conversation. Limit TV and devices also. Engaging in productive conversation will tie heart-strings together even when time is limited. Don’t settle for junk when you have time to be together, focus on making your time the shiniest  “golden” time you can have.

Continue to be his helpmeet

Ask yourself this: “Did God bring us here to this church for my husband to be the pastor?” If the answer is yes, and you can confirm in your heart you knew His calling was bringing you to serve in your current church then let go of your desires and just be at peace. If you are where God wants you then there are lessons to be learned. You know the old adage, “Bloom where you’re planted?” While you’re learning to grow and bloom in the strain of time with your husband, continue to be his helpmeet.

True fact: Every husband is lacking in some area of their life (with or without these circumstances). AND one of the roles of the wife is to be his helpmeet. You might be wondering, “Well, I’m the one who needs help, my sink is backing up and my kids are driving me bonkers! How can I help him!?” Somehow even in those unmet needs (like the sink) God will fill in the gaps with solutions, you just need to talk to HIM about them and see where He will open doors to take care of the problems. Another thing to ask God is where He wants you to help your husband. It might be that you will just have to put aside some of your dreams and desires in this season of your life so you can focus on helping your husband do the things where he falls short. It’s not a sin that he needs help, it’s a place of blessing that you will have the discernment to help his needs be met.

In the year that we lived with my in-laws my hobbies (including blogging!) had to go to the wayside. My beloved beads, craft papers, glue, scissors, sewing machine, and even greeting cards were all in a huge storage shed baking in the summer sun without me. The crafty part of me had to be put on the shelf to cultivate and really work at making a multi-generational family work. Meeting my husband’s needs with clean clothes and a lunch every day, maintaining my in-laws’ home, homeschooling the children, and tend to the needs of a little baby all wracked up a ton of my time and energy. I’m not gonna lie, it. was. hard. Everything in me some days screamed “This isn’t right!?” because we were feeling a strain on our family and marriage. I hear ya honey, I know, somewhere in the midst of all this to-and-fro, pass-and-go ministry life we want to still be able to claim something, anything that resembles “normal.” The lifestyle of making things work for your family often is a demonstration of active self-denial to be the helpmeet he needs in this type of season of life. (If you’re needing help with specific things see the section about communication in Part 1).

Does he need you to be his secretary taking phone calls and messages, ordering flowers for people who are in the hospital, or taking care of the church website? Or is he in need of you to iron his clothes and have meals ready before his mad-dash to the mid-week service? Perhaps your accounting and budgeting skills can come in handy to help with managing your money or the church finances? Or being the one to organize the janitorial work to be done at the church every week?  It may be possible you would need to teach and train your children at home in skills where your husband would normally be able to do but now cannot. You might have to work alongside your children to teach them responsibility in chores or foster the lines of communication between your husband and your children.

Side note: Just because you may be involved in many areas of church life does not mean you’re the boss of them, you’re the mediator/helper. All questions and authority on decisions comes through the proper channels, make sure you follow procedures and policies just like any other person would when it comes to church work and being in submission to your husband’s desires. We don’t trump our husbands on decision-making because we’re helping. Too many women run rough-shod over people when they are supposed to be the helpmeet, not the boss.

Guard your heart & Your Marriage

While life is hard and time is short and your Stretch Armstrong husband is being pulled like taffy, remember to guard your heart and marriage. Yep, I’m talking about the ooey gooey part of your relationship. Bloom where you’re planted here too, find ways to keep the love alive in your marriage! Dress up for your man even if he’s off to prayer meeting or a hospital call. Let him know you’re still thinking of him when he’s not there because that will be the draw for him to continue to come home. Find ways to communicate with your husband that will help you keep an open relationship; sweet I’m thinking of you texts, warm greetings, phone calls when possible. Go to a couple’s retreat, or have a sitter come in overnight and go to the next town over for a little night out, at the very least have date night regularly even if it’s after the kids go to bed.

When he’s gone you keep your heart right before the Lord and guard your heart. Satan still seeks whom he may devour and lonely women are easy snacks for the taking. Needy women are also easy prey, don’t lean on another man to solve your problems just because your husband isn’t around. If you do have someone to help you with your busted sink put precautions in place to help remain blameless and pure in your relationship. In other words, don’t be alone with another man. Monitor yourself on the internet, talking to other men about your difficulties will not build your marriage either. Forsake any thoughts that life could be better if…God placed you here, continue serving Him faithfully, and using your creativity to keep your marriage not just afloat but thriving.

Problem Solving with prayer

What if I do everything necessary to making things better for us, including talking to my husband, and we are still strained for time together as a family? Or what if our church is suffering because of my husband’s job? Our children never see their father?

Ministry Mama, I do not know the answer for your particular family on what specific answer you need to see the results you’re wanting. We do know the One who does. God knows, He sees all, He cares. He knows you may be scraping the barrel to get by as a family. Keep on your knees Mama, humbly cry out before the Lord asking Him to change the heart of your husband, or arrange the circumstances needed for your children to spend more time with their father, or for the church members to step in and help him.

Don’t quit asking! Don’t quit problem-solving in prayer! The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man {Ministry Mama} availeth much, (my emphasis) James 5:17.

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11 Ways We’ve Made Our Marriage Special

11 Ways We've Made Our Marriage SpecialIn celebration of our eleventh anniversary I want to share eleven ways we have tried to make our marriage special through the years.

1. Our anniversary date is 9-11 so usually when we see the time is 9:11 am or pm then we will say to each other “Happy Anniversary.” This lets us know that we’re thinking of something only we share.

2. We have given our children a routine bedtime. Once things get settled down 15-20 minutes after we make the kids go to bed then we usually share our one-on-one time together for at least a couple of hours.

3. We eat late night snacks together…it’s our weakness. It’s true, one of our children (it’s a conspiracy) is always peeking or coming up with an excuse after they go to bed to see what we’re going to be eating together. While we chow down we are talking and discussing life in our adult after-kids-go-to-bed-life.

4. We follow our favorite marriage advice from my husband’s grandparents who have been married for over 50 years to “do everything together.” Okay, so maybe not EVERYTHING, but we try to do a lot together, making dinner, going on errands, and etc. My husband is very good at participating in our family even though he is tired and I think that it helps our marriage tremendously.

5. We like to play games together. Yahtzee is our latest addiction, among other games like Battleship, Checkers, Ticket to Ride, other card games and even two-player games on the tablet.

6. We bought a book about romance. One year we went to Barnes & Noble and bought a really big book of romantic ideas. It has helped us tremendously when we have needed a quick idea to get our creative juices going in our everyday love life (being sweet to each other all the time) as much as our intimate love life.

7. One of my favorite things we have done as a couple to keep ourselves dating each other is that we printed off the Passport to Love year of dates from The Dating Divas.  In the passport you pick countries you want to “visit.” When you choose a country like Mexico you will eat Mexican food, listen to mariachi music, and come up with a fun or other romantic idea to go with that country’s theme. We each took six of the dates and locations and had the responsibility to come up with the ideas for that country. It made it fun, sometimes we dressed up and had a fun home date and other times we scheduled activities on a night out.

*Note: You may not be able to visit this website if you have a strong internet filter but you could still take the idea and come up with your own passport and share the date destinations around the world for a year.

8. Before we were married we passed a small wooden red heart back and forth between each other. We would leave it on the dashboard of each other’s car, in a love note, or in a surprising place. We still pass that little heart around when we find it. Recently while we’ve packed to move we found it again and it gets keeps getting passed or put in a place for the other person to find. It’s just a fun way to think all the way back to the beginning of our relationship and continue what has become a small and meaningful tradition.

9. Going out on dates has been a treat when we are able to do it. When someone we trust offers to watch the kids and let us have some alone time then you know we are going to take it! Whether it’s for a trip to the grocery store when my in-laws are in town or going out for dinner when a lady or family in our church has volunteered to be a blessing we do it! Sometimes going out just isn’t possible, that’s why we really emphasize the one-on-one time after the kids go to bed.

10. Showing affection in front of our kids. Often my husband says out loud to our children, “Who wants to see Papa give Mama a big kiss?” The general roar of the mini crowd says “I do!” and we proceed to lip-lock in a fairly conservative way. Then, we smile at each other and applause and laughter breaks out before the next “Again, again!” We will usually indulge the kids a few rounds before they want to be close to us and give us hugs too. We hold hands, kiss, and hug regularly in public to give our children the security of knowing their parents really do love each other.

11. Helping each other with our responsibilities whether it is work/ministry related and/or home related. This was partly mentioned earlier but we blend our lives by stepping up at times to meet the needs of the other person in our daily life. I am a planner and organizer and many times my husband has been able to execute special ministry jobs better when I have been able to help him sit down and think through the planning. On the other hand, I don’t know how many times I’ve told my husband, “I don’t know why God calls me the helpmeet when you help me so much.” Putting each other first and seeing the needs of the other person can really magnetize you together if you do it in the right spirit and attitude.

We’re not perfect people and we’re certainly not the best example of marriage out there, but these are the things we have enjoyed doing together to keep our marriage special. I would encourage you if you have been married for any length of time to make a list like this, it really makes you think and it creates an endearing moment of sweetness when you realize all the love that has been passed between you through the years. It’s a blessing to say the least!

You can read about what I’ve learned from 10 years of marriage, the article that I wrote this time last year.

The Police Chaplain’s Wife

 

Relaxed and sitting in the living room waiting for Cuatro, our youngest daughter, to fall asleep because she had her own special “camp out” in the living room for doing a good job at cleaning her room a few days earlier, when suddenly the call came.

He quickly approached me where I was standing in our bathroom and said “One of our officers has been shot.” He was making a phone call to the head chaplain and notifying him that he would be on his way within the next 5-10 minutes.

I grabbed his uniform pants, his dress shoes, black belt, and he grabbed his navy long-sleeved shirt with the yellow letters “chaplain” written on the back. He began to get dressed and I grabbed his wallet, badge, and keys. He was ready within minutes. I handed him a quick snack and some water, he kissed me and he was out the door.

Only a week before this incident we had honored our local department in a special service. We shook their hands and gave personal words of thanks, gave them gifts, presented them with the gospel, and fed them a steak dinner in a tent in the church parking lot. We prayed for this man’s life to be spared.

Police Chaplain's Wife

The Difference between Officers’ Families and Chaplains’ Families

When an officer leaves for the day they leave their family members with a blank day ahead of them that will be filled with the call-outs and happenings as the day unfolds. Their family hugs them good-bye never knowing the outcome of how things will go. When my husband is called out on a chaplain call, we already know the outcome. Typically death has occurred and the majority of them last fall were suicides. We knew when he left that the people at the scene were either distraught or there were people yet to be notified of their loved one’s death and it would cause turmoil in not only their day, but their life.

This particular night the suspect that had shot the officer was not in custody. When I hugged my husband good-bye I wished he was wearing a Kevlar vest for protection. Yellow “chaplain” lettering on the back of a shirt would not keep a criminal from firing shots.

Naturally the greatest question is “who was shot?” Was is an officer that we knew? Was it an officer that came to our police service? Was it an officer who heard the gospel and accepted it at some point in their life? or not? How will my husband do if it was one of his friends and he has to try to comfort the other officers amidst his own inner sadness? The questions quickly outnumbered any chance of immediate answers.

The text came to me two hours after he left, “It looks like it’s going to be a long night. Go to bed whenever.” My mind would not shut off and I began having Braxton-Hicks contractions from the stress of worry. He returned in the wee hours of the morning exhausted but determined to get up at 5:45 am and be at the debriefing at the police headquarters to be able to minister if needed. He spent the next 48 hours with little sleep, helping deliver meals, being available for meetings, and listening to angry and broken hearts of the men and women in blue.

Reality Hit

The officer that did die was a friend of my husband and the weight did compound itself on his shoulders. When the autopsy was complete, the answer concluded nothing could have been done to save his life. The injuries from the shots were fatal. For my husband, past conversations became meaninful and the fun and good interactions they shared became valuable memories now treasured.

He ministered what he could all during his last week of working in our church – I admired him for his commitment to make a difference. I pitied him for his torn heart between the loss of his friend and the end of his “ministry” in our current church. The end for both was certain, two chapters closed in his life at one time. A week later he attended the officer’s funeral and completed his last official chaplain duties. The tune of the bagpipes that played in honor of his friend filled his mind for weeks following.

The Value of the Chaplaincy

At first I did not want him to be a police chaplain, selfishly I wanted his time to be mine. In time the Lord showed me that my “sacrifice” was really a gift to my husband. The chaplain training classes he received were so closely related to being able to be applied to ministry situations, it was invaluable. Learning to make death notifications, comforting hurting family members, and the importance of confidentiality (and more!) all will help him in other future situations with ministering to others.

The one-on-one contact he received from men and women in law enforcement gave him friends and contacts in the community who were outside our church family. When you move to a city not knowing anyone besides those you are going to church with and are very heavily scheduled in ministry activities sometimes getting out into the community as much as you would like to may not be possible… even if you are regularly going out door-to-door and making visits. Going on ride-a-longs and visiting the precinct was a good thing for him. As we ministered to them yearly in our specific church police ministries, it became a good thing for our family. His officer friends became regular topics of conversation as well as specific people we were praying for – not just their safety, but their salvation and spiritual growth.

The desire my husband had to become a chaplain became a burden on my heart over time and became an extension of our current ministry and allowed us to serve together toward loving a group of people in their own unique mission field. I only hope chaplain work will be in my husband’s life again in the future because it showed us a glimpse of the officers’ and their families’ lives. Police work and ministry work have a lot in common, which is a whole other blog post in itself! I hope someday I can be a police chaplain’s wife again.