Keep on Swimming. . .

everyday life inside the fishbowl

Worthy Word Wednesday: A Prayer for My Pastor (& Husband)

woman_prayingBeing married to a pastor, especially a senior pastor brings many challenges (and blessings) to a marriage and family. My husband has been a senior pastor for a year and a half now–the most challenging time in our lives, our marriage, and our family.

What are some of the things that make pastoring (thus marriage to a pastor) so difficult? Here are a few:


  • A pastor (and his family) are growing sinners saved by grace–just like every other Christian. Yet, the pastor must get up 1-3 times a week (and more, when you include counseling) and tell other Christians how the Bible calls us to live, act, feel, think, etc. Talk about humbling and so discouraging when you are faced with your own sins!
  • A pastor can rarely get away from his work. Work=church=personal social interactions=kids’ friends=wife’s friends. My former pastor used to quote another pastor who answered the question, “When do you work?” with “I wake up in the middle of it.” So, so true (assuming, however, that your work hasn’t kept you from sleeping because you are so burdened about something).
  • A pastor’s burdens are his (and God’s) alone. A pastor knows many of the burdens of most of the people in his church. He cannot share this compilation of burdens with anyone within the church, including his wife. It is often a heavy burden to bear.

There are many other challenges, some varying on the location, size, and make-up of individual local churches. While we have faced many challenges, these difficulties have grown us in innumerable ways. They have stretched us personally, interpersonally, and as a couple.

These difficulties, though, have sometimes made it difficult for me to pray for my husband. Oftentimes I just don’t know how to pray, because–as I mentioned above–I don’t even know the issues that are burdening or discouraging him. I just know he needs my prayer.

So, one day, I sat down and read the book of Second Timothy. I compiled a list of ways that Paul (a veteran pastor) exhorted or encouraged his young friend and fellow pastor, Timothy. I realized that these embody the very struggles of a pastor. Thus, these are very specific ways I could pray for my own pastor and husband. (I framed a copy of this for him for Christmas this year!)

  1. I pray that you would fan into flame your gifts with courage, love, and self control (1:6-7).
  2. I pray that you would not be ashamed of the Gospel, but rather suffer for it by God’s power, the same power that saved you (1:8-12).
  3. I pray that you would be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2:1).
  4. I pray that you would pass the Gospel on to faithful men who will then teach others (2:2).
  5. I pray that you would share in suffering as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2:3).
  6. I pray that you would have a single-minded desire to please God (2:4).
  7. I pray that you would obey God’s rules in order to succeed (2:5).
  8. I pray that you would work hard, holding to the promise of blessing (2:6).
  9. I pray that you (especially in times of suffering) would think and meditate on these things (#5-7), knowing that God will give you understanding (2:7).
  10. I pray that you would remember the Gospel, namely Jesus Christ, the One who is risen from the dead (2:8).
  11. I pray that you would be moved to endurance by the truths of the Gospel (2:10-13).
  12. I pray that you would zealously pursue God’s approval by correctly handling Scripture (2:15).
  13. I pray that you would avoid irreverent babble (2:16).
  14. I pray that you would flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace (2:22).
  15. I pray that you would avoid foolish and ignorant controversies; rather than being quarrelsome, I pray that you would be kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently endure evil, and correct opponents with gentleness, for some might repent (2:23-24).
  16. I pray that you will understand that there will be times of difficulty with sinful people who have an external appearance of godliness yet deny the Gospel; I pray that you would avoid these people (3:1-9)
  17. I pray that, despite persecution, you would continue in what you’ve learned in Scripture, knowing that it is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness. I pray that you would be competent and equipped for every good work (3:10-17).
  18. I pray that you would preach the word, in season and out of season. I pray that you would reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching–especially in a time when people won’t endure sound teaching but rather find teachers who suit their own fancy and wander from truth to myths (4:1-4).
  19. I pray that you would always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, and fulfill your ministry (4:5).
  20. I pray that you would be encouraged by Paul’s example of one who has fought the good fight, finished the race, kept the faith, and received a crown of righteousness (4:6-8).
  21. I pray that the Lord be with your spirit. I pray that grace be with you (4:22).


Tomorrow starts a new year. Why not resolve to pray for your pastor at least every week? This would be such an encouragement for your pastor (and husband, if applicable). I know my husband has been so encouraged.

Know also that God answers prayer! These prayers are not simply ways to encourage your pastor/husband. But they are requests to a God who can and does answer the very requests that we ask of Him for another. God can use the very trials of pastoring to grow a pastor in greater Christlikeness through our prayers!

{On Wednesdays, I share from a book, blog, or other resource some “worthy words.” I love to read, but my time for reading has been much decreased since the birth of my first child. I am encouraged when I am able to read snippets of precious truth as I come across them. Hopefully these few words will encourage your heart, as well as give you a resource for fuller reading as your time allows.}



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Tasty Tuesday: Baked Pineapple Casserole

photo (6)I finally completed my Christmas dinner shopping last night. It was pretty crazy out there! I feel a little late with my prep this year, but–hey–I’m a busy pastor’s wife and a mom of 3! 🙂 If you are still planning your menu and looking for a side dish to go with your ham, this recipe is perfect! Turkey dinners are always easy to plan for me, because the stuffing is a natural accompaniment for the turkey. But I’ve always had a harder time choosing sides with ham (personally, I like scalloped potatoes or baked mac & cheese, but my husband wanted something different this year). A couple years ago, a friend had us over for a ham dinner, and she made this pineapple casserole. As soon as I tasted it, I knew it was the perfect accompaniment for ham! I forgot to get the recipe from her, but I found something very similar (if not the same) at  I did alter the recipe slightly, reducing the butter and sugar by half and increasing the amount of bread. I also highly recommend using the crushed pineapple in juice, not syrup. This recipe takes less than 20 minutes to prep and about 1 hour to bake. It serves about 6.


¼ cup butter, softened

½ cup sugar

4 eggs

1 pinch ground cinnamon (optional)

1 pinch ground nutmeg (optional)

8 slices white bread, torn (use a firm bread like French or Italian)

1 20-oz can crushed pineapple in juice (undrained)


1. Preheat oven to 350*. Grease a medium-sized casserole dish.

2. In mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Stir in cinnamon and nutmeg if you are using them. Add bread and crushed pineapple, stirring gently to combine.

3. Transfer to baking dish and bake until bubbly and lightly browned, about 1 hour.


{On Tuesdays, I share a yummy recipe. Typically, my recipes will be super easy, because I’m a mom with littles. I try to be healthy and frugal as well. But I like good food, so it will always be delicious!}

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Thursday Thoughts: What Finally Made Me Give up “The Law”

open bible{Well, after a 6-month break, 1 kidney stone, 1 giant extended-family vacation, 1 new (adorable) baby (Ashlyn Margaret), 2 trips back home to Michigan, and (almost) 2 major holidays. . . I have finally returned to blogging! 🙂 Posts will still likely be infrequent, as I’ve found that three children kind of push you over the edge toward insanity, but I will try! (No promises!! 🙂 ) }

The most motivating factor for my getting back into blogging was this post that I’ve been thinking about (thus the heading, “Thursday Thoughts”). Quite a while ago, I wrote my most-read post, “Over-emphasizing the Gospel.” A lot of well-meaning authors have written about how we need to emphasize grace (as opposed to focusing on obeying and being burdened by the “rules” or the “law”). In my post cited above, I simply stated that we need to be careful not to over-emphasize grace to the exclusion of the other aspects of the Gospel (e.g., obedience). Many of these pro-grace, anti-law (which I am, if defined properly) authors tell us to “remember the Gospel,” and that will motivate us to obey (rather than obeying simply because we are supposed to if we are a Christian and want God to be happy with us).

Remember the Gospel. This is good advice. But it’s kind of a buzz word–or buzz sentence, to be exact. It can be kind of vague. And there are books (and blog posts galore!) written about this subject, making it feel (to me) like this was just one more rule to follow. One more way I need to try to force my brain to think rightly and my heart to feel rightly.

Lately, however, I think I’ve come across a way to make this whole process simpler (though not necessarily easier).

Study the Bible.

This may seem basic, but let me explain. During our church’s morning worship service, my husband, Dave, has been preaching expositionally through the Gospel of Mark. We are only on chapter three, but I am seeing the immense value of studying Jesus. I see what he values (e.g., God’s Word, God’s purpose for his life). I see how he prioritizes (e.g., preaching the Word is more important than meeting physical needs). I see how he is compassionate (e.g., though preaching the Word is priority, he takes the time to meet needs because he pities needy people). I see how he is patient and selfless (e.g., diseased people pressed in on him, touching him to be healed).

When I study God’s Word in context and see my Lord’s values, priorities, compassion, patience, and selflessness (many all of which qualities I struggle with), I am motivated to be like him. I am reminded of situations in which I could perhaps be more compassionate and patient, and I am motivated to be like Jesus.

Here’s another example. In our church’s ladies’ Bible study, we are studying the book of 1 Peter. We started in chapter 1, verse 1 and are going through the book verse-by-verse. Do you know what? I am learning that the theme of 1 Peter is that Jesus Christ is our living hope! I learn that all things on earth are perishable, but all things that pertain to the Gospel are imperishable. I am motivated to emphasize the imperishable in my life. I am motivated, for example, to be a submissive wife (not because I am “supposed to”), but because–in context–submission is a way that unbelievers can see the Gospel at work in my life, so that they can perhaps be saved and glorify God!

Have you seen the similarities between my two examples? I have had opportunity to study whole passages of the Bible in context. And this has been extremely motivating for me to give up “the Law.” In other words, I am not obeying 1 Peter 3:1 (“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands. . .”) because “it says so.” (If I were perfect, I could and would for that reason at all times, but I am not. Thankfully, Jesus fulfilled all righteousness for me!). I am motivated to be subject to my husband, because I understand the context of 1 Peter 3. My submission is a way of giving the Gospel. My submission is part of living for those things that are imperishable.

Studying the Bible has helped me obey because I want to be like Jesus Christ. Studying the Bible has helped me obey because I understand the rules in the big picture of the Gospel.

Please do read books that emphasize grace (as long as they don’t exclude obedience). They are helpful and sometimes necessary. But, please, study your Bible book-by-book. Learn about Jesus. Read the commands in context. I think you will be motivated to obey from a heart that loves God and wants to be like him.

{On Thursdays, I share some thoughts about what God is teaching me in my various roles as a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mother, and a pastor’s wife.}

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