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.

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A new season: Pastor in Transition

6 years ago, we packed up all of our belongings and moved from the US to Canada. We moved to a small town that we never visited before the job interview at the church. To say that it was a step of faith is an understatement. More like a leap of faith. We left behind all that was familiar for the unfamiliar. We trusted that I’d eventually find a job. We said good-bye to good friends and family. We went knowing that staying wasn’t our next step. No, our next step was to go.

Now, after 6 years have passed by, we sense that our season at this church has come to an end. Truthfully, this conclusion took us both by surprise (and involved a lot of wrestling). We like longevity and thought we’d be here longer. But then I thought that I’d live in the States forever and here we are in Canada.

Sometimes we think that we’ll always do this or that…until we don’t. We can think that we’ll always live in a certain place, always work a certain job, always have certain friends, always think a certain way…til we no longer do. Thankfully, change doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Often, the unexpected changes in life can produce in us new fruit.

Our recent church will always hold a special place in our hearts. We’ve loved, we’ve learned, we are better people now than we were 6 years ago. We wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Now a new season is upon us. It’s scary and exciting. It feels a bit like 6 yrs ago. Except this time, we have evidence to recall of God’s faithfulness. He was with us then. He’s still with us now.

Here’s to being in transition. Come what may.

Looking for a church

Searching for a new church can be a challenging endeavor. As a pastoral family in transition, we are now experiencing this first hand. The fact that we’d like to find a church within a specific denomination (Free Methodist) helps to narrow down the list of churches in our area considerably. But we still have several churches to visit and chose from.

So far, we’ve been guests at 5 Free Methodist churches in our area on a Sunday morning. It is a great learning experience to be “new in the pew”. The following gives you a little insight into what the search process has been like so far for a “young family” looking for a church. Please keep in mind that our experience will be different from others (i.e. we are very familiar with church language, culture, etc).

Prior to Sunday morning, we are checking out the church website for the service time and also looking to see if it gives us any idea on what to expect for our first visit. Like many visiting a church for the first time, we wonder about attire. And as tired parents to a wee one, we wonder if we can bring our coffee to church.

Since we’ve never been to any of these churches before (on a Sunday morning), we are pure newbies when we arrive. We have experienced firsthand the importance of good signage (i.e. where’s the main entrance? where are the bathrooms?). We appreciate being told about the nursery (we have a 1 year old) and also being made to feel comfortable if we decide to keep our daughter in the service. This helps as I don’t plan to put our daughter in the nursery on our very first visit to a church. With this in mind, we appreciate when there’s space at the back of a sanctuary where we can sit or walk around with our one year old.

You may be wondering: what exactly are you looking for in a church? I think I’ll take a stab at this question at another time in a different post. We certainly don’t expect perfection.

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Photo credit: looking-for-a-church

I’ll leave you with this: a church must be prepared for first time guests to arrive on ANY Sunday during the year. Even in the summer months. You never know when a person, couple or family will decide to give your church a try. Always be ready. And lastly, welcoming new folks isn’t just for the pastor to do, rather, it’s more-so for the congregation members. Besides the pastor being kinda busy that morning (a guest may slip in when the service has started and leave before the pastor can get to them),  it seems to mean more to first time guests when a congregation is outgoing vs. just the pastor is friendly.

That’s all folks. For now. We are midway through our journey to find where God would have us serve & be served. While in this process, we seek to learn, grow, and encourage each and every church that we visit.

 

Hurt in a church? A must read:

The following is such a good article. Highly recommend reading all of it.  It’s full of wisdom that’s helpful to understand whether you’ve been hurt in a church, know someone who has, or not. This is for every churchgoer.

How to Keep From Getting Hurt in a church by Dale A. Robbins:
Avoiding Hurts and Offenses in the Church

There’s 13 different and oh-so-good points. Here’s a sample of one of them (#12):

One of the great characteristics of the body of Christ is to care about the burdens and sufferings of one another. However, as we seek to console and encourage friends that have been offended, we may be tempted to take up their offense against another. In sympathy, we may tend to take their part against the pastor, the church or whoever they blame for the offense. This is very unwise and an unscriptural thing to do, considering that your friend may be the cause of his own offense. His hurt feelings may be due to a misunderstanding, a difference of opinion, his own rebellious attitude, emotional instability — or he may be childish and immature. There are always two sides to a story, and only an idiot develops an opinion based on one side or without all the facts.

Sometimes offended persons will seek sympathy from naive, listening ears. They go about pleading their case, pouring out their bleeding-heart of injustice to those sincere, tenderhearted persons who will listen. Their goal is to seek out persons who will coddle them, support their opinion and take up their offense against the offending party. You should love and encourage a friend with hurt feelings, but reserve your opinion and avoid taking sides, lest you find yourself a partaker in other men’s sins, or you also become offended and hurt with the church.

What’s next?

With Derek’s last day as lead/solo pastor behind us, we’ve been asked “what’s next?” Starting this week, Derek will be a stay-at-home dad to our toddler daughter. He’s looking forward to it! We don’t know how long this will last so we are going to soak it up while we can.

This summer and into the fall, we’ll be looking for a new church to worship at. We plan to visit all of the Free Methodist churches in the area and will be praying about which one to plug into. Derek will continue to serve the Free Methodist Church in Canada at a denominational level as a member on S.C.O.D. (a theological and doctrinal study and writing group).

You may still be wondering: but what’s next for him regarding pastoral ministry? At this time, we don’t know. This response is unsettling for some (’cause a pastor always leaves for another church, right??), but it’s not unsettling for us. We have peace about this next season of life and ministry.

As Christians, we believe what matters most is that you love God & love your neighbour. Good news – this can be done in a 20 person church or a 2,000 person church. A person can be a lead pastor, an associate pastor, OR a lay person and be greatly used by God. We desire to love, serve and grow wherever, whenever. All the while, we want to remain open to however God may lead.

What’s next? Hopefully lots of this:

Posted @ QUOTEZ.CO

Emotions leading up to last Sunday at church

With this Sunday being our last at our church (of 6 years), people have been asking me how I’m doing. The best way that I can describe it is…it reminds me of what it felt like to graduate from my beloved college. The years were special. Amazing friendships. Spiritual and personal growth. There were hard times but lots of good times. Life felt full due to living in community. But it had to come to an end eventually. You’re thankful for what was…sad that it’s over…and a little anxious with all the unknown that is ahead.

While that’s the best analogy that I can offer for how I’m feeling now as a season of life & ministry comes to an end, it also falls short. You see, after graduating from Roberts, I could go back to visit at anytime. It didn’t affect my friendships. Leaving a church (for whatever reason – even for those who retire) is different. I can’t go back. It would be considered bad practice if I walked in the church doors on a Sunday in the next year (or more). The finality of it all chokes me up in ways that my college graduation didn’t.

So to be honest, with our last Sunday quickly approaching…I’m either keeping myself busy by helping my husband tie up loose ends or feeling the weight of it all (sad). Leaving a church is a form of loss for every pastor and their family, even when it was their decision to do so.

Maybe it’s a good thing that I feel sadness as we lead up to our last Sunday. Maybe my emotions confirm what I say with my mouth: I’m grateful for the past 6 yrs at our church and will never forget it.  And maybe my emotions are showing me just how deeply I have loved this community of people (lump in throat). Okay, so on that note, I’m going to have a little cry…

Wish us luck for Sunday!

demon possession or mental illness?

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Is it mental illness or demon possession? How can I know the difference? And how can the church help and not hurt? While I am no expert on this topic, I hope that the following is helpful.

Disclaimer: Some don’t believe that mental illness is real. Others don’t believe that demon possession is real. This post is for those who believe that demon possession is possible. And that mental illness is possible. If both exist as possibilities – then which one is it? Please keep in mind that even for Christians, demon possession is a puzzling topic. And many Christians would be quick to point out that we live in a broken world. We aren’t in Eden anymore. We have bodies AND minds that fail us at times.

Typically, when a person is attempting to discern between a demon possession or a mental illness, it is because something unusual is going on. Often, the person is hearing voices, seeing things others aren’t seeing, and/or having trouble discerning what is real from what is not. Psychosis (a break from reality) affects 3% of the population at some time in their life, while schizophrenia affects 1% of the population. That means that 1 in 100 people will develop schizophrenia in their lifetime. The age of onset is usually between 14-35 years of age. Similar to how diabetes can be treated with medication, psychosis can also be treated with medication. If the breaks from reality improve on medication (and if the person has been patient in finding the right medication and dosage) that gives a strong indication that the unusual experiences were due to biochemistry. Demon possession wouldn’t go away via medication.

Church leaders may be contacted either by concerned family members or by the individual to help determine what is going on. The best way that the church can help is to strongly encourage a second opinion (family doctor, mental health worker, psychiatrist) AND stay involved with the family and individual. Problems arise when one of these steps are missed. Do seek outside help but don’t stop meeting with the family/individual. The individual needs both the health care system and their church at a time of crisis.

The church can play a beautiful role in helping individuals who are questioning “is it demon possession or mental illness?”. To do so, the church must be willing to refer out and stay involved.

For more on this subject, watch this video from “The Meeting House” on November 15th, 2015. It was a Mental Health Q & A during their worship service, which happened to come at the end of their series on Satan and demons.