Women in Church Leadership

img_20170222_095831_180

Our daughter has a set of toy people who are each of a different occupation. We weren’t sure which occupation this lady is. Teacher? Hubby suggested, “Pastor”. Yes. Yes, of course. She’s a Pastor.

As a young girl, I remember asking my dad why he was so committed to attending a Free Methodist church. His reply was, “I have 4 daughters. I want each of you to fully understand that you can serve in leadership at church, too.”

In the little and big ways, we desire for our daughter to know that she can serve in leadership and even be a pastor one day, too (should she feel called). Today that lesson comes in the form of a toy woman with the occupation of pastor.

when dad stays home

As a couple, we view parenthood as a joint adventure. We are both in the game in every way. For the first year of our daughter’s life, I stayed home on mat leave (Canada rocks!). Now I’m the one working full-time while dad stays home.

At this time, Dad has been the stay-at-home parent for two months now.  Over the last several weeks, the following has been said to him:

How are you liking retirement?

You can’t be staying home, you’ll go crazy!

There are things said to stay-at-home dads that don’t seem to be said to stay-at-home moms. Being a stay-at-home parent is a real, full-time job (I don’t think it’s quite like retirement??). While you DO feel like you’ll go crazy at times (teething, tantrums, etc) it’s also filled with moments of fun and laughter. Some days are tough. Some days are great.

While the day-to-day is similar whether mom or dad stays home, misunderstandings for dad abound. Even after Derek explains that his full-time job right now is providing care for our toddler, some are still shocked that he’s actually alone with her for 5 days a week (M-F). And he’s the main one up with our daughter during the night (on week nights). He’s a real stay-at-home parent in every way.

How long will he be the stay-at-home parent for? We don’t know. What we do know is this: it’s important to embrace whatever season of life you find yourself in. And we try to remember that our daughter won’t be like this for long…and we are going to miss this.

20160717_154017

On raising my daughter to be a feminist

It’s a shame that many cringe when they hear the word feminist. People are often confused by what a person means when they say, “I’m a feminist”. The dictionary definition is such:

Feminist: advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.

You don’t have to be a female to be a feminist. I love this clip where our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau identifies as a feminist and speaks about raising his sons to be feminists. It’s a one minute clip and worth the watch: Justin Trudeau Urges Men to be Feminists

How exactly do I plan to raise my daughter to be a feminist? The question gives me pause. It certainly won’t be a one time event but an on-going process. The following are a couple examples that come to mind. It’s not an exhaustive list but its a start.

  1. I plan to always raise her in a church that supports women in leadership and ministry. Thankfully, the Free Methodist Church is such a place. (p.s. Jesus was a radical feminist, I look forward to pointing this out to her!)
  2. I hope to instill in her the ability to ask, “why?” Example: why are baby showers only for the mothers and not also for the fathers? Where does that come from? And what do I think about that for today?
  3. I plan to instill in her a voice and knowledge re: finances. If she marries one day and decides to have her husband do the finances, that’s OK. That will be out of choice rather than inability to have an opinion on financial matters.
  4. Whether she decides to work or stay home with the kids, that will be her choice. I’ll remind her that the ability to choose is empowerment. (I’d also support dad being a stay-at-home dad if that’s what they want!).
  5. I’d want her to be aware of the inequality between males and females. The unspoken & spoken expectations that are rooted in sexism. But I’d want to do so in such a way that she is informed but not bitter. Passionate about justice but not poisoned by injustice. There’s a fine line — we must do what we can, when we can. But we will also face great disappointments in how others think & operate. This discouragement can cause us to not act at all. I hope that our daughter will be a feminist who will do what she can, when she can and will also remember the wise words of Mother Teresa:

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.

 

Pastor’s Wife: working full-time and raising a family

My husband is a pastor (he’s the solo pastor at our church). I work full-time and have a 45 minute commute each way. In spring of 2015, we welcomed our first child. When I’ve searched google for answers re: being a pastor’s wife, working full-time and being a mom, I can’t seem to find anything. I’ve found plenty of great articles re: the challenges of balancing ministry life while raising a young family, but nothing re: being a pastor’s wife + working full time + raising a family. Hmm.

After a year of mat leave (thank you, Canada!), I plan to return to my job in April. I’m not sure how I’ll manage church life activity while working full time and raising a young child. I love church community and serving, my job and my family! But as we know, we can’t do it all. This may be a challenging season of finding balance through creativity and establishing priorities.

Are you a pastor’s wife who works outside of the home? If so, I’d love to hear from you! If you have any thoughts to add please leave a comment below.

Stop Saying That You Don’t Want A Daughter

It costs more to have a daughter. Girls are more work. And the drama! Those are just a few of the sayings I’ve heard re: having a girl. I’ve had people say that they wouldn’t want to have a girl or wouldn’t want two girls or three girls, etc. As the oldest of 4 girls, I used to have similar thoughts. But that all changed when…when we had a daughter.

IMG_0539_edited-web

Whether you have a son or a daughter, a child costs a lot to raise. And you can’t put a price tag on the joy it is to have a daughter. Having a daddy’s girl is absolutely priceless.

IMG_7379 web

Girls are more work they say. Why? Because they like to talk? Work through their feelings? I guess as a social worker, I don’t see this as being a bad thing.

IMG_7411 webDrama? Yes, the teenage years can be rough for girls. It sucks that girls have to get periods and grow breasts and the like. But despite everything (yes, even despite the pain of childbirth!) I’m glad to be a girl. And I wouldn’t trade the experience of having our girl for ANYTHING.

IMG_7323 web

It’s not the clothing. Or the tea parties. Or pink. Or shopping. None of that really appeals to me. Having a girl is a precious gift that I can’t fully put into words. While it’s a shame that she’ll have to fight for gender equality and will face our culture’s sexualisation of women + warped view of beauty, I think she’ll be okay. For women are strong. Brave. Smart. Caring. And it’s a joy to be part of the club! Periods and all.

IMG_7422 web

Plus I hear that a daughter is more likely to look after you in your old age 😉 Don’t worry sweetie, that’s not the reason why we had you! We love you, our daughter. And if you had a girl, you’d understand. Please stop saying that you don’t want a daughter. Trust me, you do. Or you would. You’d change your mind as soon as she’s in your arms. And your life would never be the same. For you have a daughter!

** I want to be sensitive to those who really want to have a daughter but aren’t able to for whatever reason. I in no way want to belittle your pain. This is a post for those who say they wouldn’t want a daughter. Or pity those with only girls.

If I could have coffee with Anna Duggar

Since the breaking news of the Ashley Madison hack, FB posts and blog articles have exploded re: Josh Duggar’s infidelity and opinions on what Anna Duggar will do, should do, etc. Many feel that Anna’s family and religious circle will encourage her to over-look his infidelity and stay with Josh. Online, there’s a strong plea from women and men who are encouraging Anna to leave Josh and never look back. No matter what she does, she won’t please everyone. And that’s exactly why I want to sit down with Anna to have coffee.

Did you know that Anna just had a baby? The couple’s 4th child? They welcomed a baby girl on July 19th, 2015. Can you even imagine finding out that your husband has been unfaithful one month after giving birth? The following would be hard enough: recovery of birth + postpartum emotions + sleep deprivation + taking care of 3 older children and a newborn. Now add to all of this finding out that your husband paid money to be unfaithful. Anna, in addition to having coffee with you, I want to clean your house/make you meals/help take care of your older children so you can just focus on the baby + rest. I hope someone is doing that for you right now.

Anna: I want to have coffee with you. And my goal is to do one thing: listen. I mean truly listen. The kind of listening that doesn’t come naturally to most of us. To be quiet and help you block out all the voices and focus on one: your own. I want your voice to dominate the conversation. I want you to feel free to be mad, laugh and cry all in one sitting. I won’t be able to refrain from giving you a hug. A whole bunch of them.

429144_551018923216_1132295957_n

IF over coffee, you stopped the conversation and asked me for my opinionI would encourage you to take a separation from Josh. You may start to panic when I suggest this and I would remind you that separation is most often the healthiest response at a time like this. A period of separation doesn’t have to mean forever. Sometimes separation is the only way to achieve healthy reconciliation. I’d hope that I wouldn’t stop there. I’d hope that I’d be the type of friend who would not only offer my opinion but also help with logistics (I understand that Anna is unemployed and uneducated with 4 children).

In the past week, I’ve read several posts re: Anna and women’s rights. While I agree with the principles at heart, we must remember that it’s easy for us to say “she should do this or that” but it’s a lot harder to put those values into action. What good is it for us to tell a woman that she should leave her abusive husband and not back that up with practical support? What good comes from writing fiery posts about how Anna should be a better role model for women + how we’d do better if in her situation? Would we really? How do we know this (not having lived a day in her shoes)?

I want to have coffee with Anna Duggar. The likelihood of that ever happening is…slim. But guess what? There are women who are broken and need support all around me. They live in my community. Yours too. Almost every town has a shelter for women who are extremely vulnerable. No, these women may not be associated with a super large family that had a reality show. But there are women who are at rock bottom with very few who will listen. There are women who would make a change if someone would help them to do this practically speaking. Women who need to hear less “you just leave him” and more, “I will listen AND HELP you.”

Let’s remember that it’s easy for us to say what we think Anna Duggar should do. It’s easy for us to assume that if we were in someone else’s shoes we’d do this or that. Talk is cheap. Action – action is hard. Action hurts. Action costs us (time, money). Action means becoming a better listener to help another woman find her voice. Action means financially and practically supporting a vulnerable woman in getting on her feet.  Action means hugs. Not virtual ones. Real life, tears streaming down your face hugs. And sitting down to coffee with someone that you normally wouldn’t have rubbed shoulders with.

My heart is broken for Anna Duggar. And for their children. It’s one thing to find out that your husband has been unfaithful – I’d imagine that it’s quite another to find out along side millions of people that you’ve never met. To have the world anxiously awaiting word on what you will do. I’m sure that it adds a painful layer to a hurt that’s so dark and deep already. Anna, while it’s unlikely that you and I will have coffee – I will pray for you. I will hope for you. And I will attempt to practically support a woman who is going through heartache in my own community. To support her not just with words but with action. To live out 1 John 3:18: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth”. Empowering women practically speaking is the change this world desperately needs. We’ve all heard the speech. It’s time for action.