Pastor’s Wife A, B, or C

I had been a pastor’s wife for about three years before I discovered there aren’t two types of pastors’ wives (as I’d assumed), but three:

• Type A is the PW with her own specific call to ministry. I assumed she soared — anyone with their own “God-mantle” surely didn’t battle the same doubts and fears that I did.
• Type B married a man with a specific call to the ministry. In this category are actually two sub-categories: those who are thrilled to share their husband’s call and those who feel that their husband’s call is just that — their husband’s – and spend their life busily drawing the boundaries between his call and their life.
• Type C, however, are pastors’ wives who didn’t marry a pastor at all. They married an electrician or an accountant, maybe a bus driver. However, sometime after the marriage their husband admitted to or received a call to the ministry and their life changed drastically.

I have great empathy for what they must go through. It is one thing to get on the road of life and aim your car for a specific destination. The road may be bumpy, but there’s security in knowing where you’re going. To suddenly be driving to one destination and have the driver wheel onto an exit and head in exactly the opposite direction must be catastrophic to the emotions. Jill Briscoe, in “Renewal on the Run” has encouragement for those who fit Type C. She uses Peter’s wife as the example. This is a woman who married a fisherman. It was a lifestyle she knew, it had a stable income and was socially accepted. However, God had another agenda for Peter’s life and took him down another road.

What this boils down to is it does not matter if you have a personal call, you’re sharing a call or whether you were drafted mid-season, for in whatever situation you find yourself you can rest in the knowledge that God foresaw it, even foreordained it, and with His help you can succeed.

Red High Tops

As I rounded the endcap at Wal-Mart, there they sat:  red canvas high-tops.  Laceups, exactly like the ones Doug bought when sent to buy sturdy shoes to support Sharon’s faltering steps.  His wife loved them.  Their sporty appearance seemed to cheekily say, “Come on!  You can do it!”  They were her emblems of hope; she was ours.  The lessons we learned that year are forever written on our hearts.

We became friends when I, the mother of two toddlers, discovered I was once again pregnant.  Sharon provided support for my bouts of morning sickness.  She became “auntie” to my kids – sitting with them during church services while I played the piano, babysitting while I ran errands and encouraging me in my mothering trials.

When Jenny, the new baby, was only four days old, we bundled her in a blanket and made the 60-mile trip to Denver to be with Sharon while she had an MRI.  The unexplained numbness spreading down the right side of her body was discovered to be a form of spina bifida — undetected since birth.  With the passing years it had degenerated her spine to the point that she needed surgery or would die. The surgeon assured us it was a routine operation.  She could expect to be home a week after surgery.

However, it didn’t go as planned.  In disentangling ganglia from her brainstem, the surgeon had to cut more deeply than he intended thus erasing her motor skills.  In the waiting room we listened to his report. “Will she recover?” Doug inquired steadily.  Not easily upset, he just wanted to know what to expect.  “Of course,” the surgeon assured us, “it just means she will need intensive therapy before she can go home.”

All through the long summer, Sharon stayed at Rose Medical Center, attending therapy sessions several times a day.  Each visit would bring an improvement.  She first learned to control her flailing limbs, then to feed herself, followed by sitting, crawling — the red high-tops laced snugly around wobbly joints.   She’d laugh and say, “Jenny and I are twins, we learned to crawl at the same time.”

Four months after the surgery, she was allowed to go home on the condition that she would return for therapy three days a week.   Doug, a school administrator, had already taken many hours off in order to be with his wife.  With school starting there was much he needed to accomplish to get ready for the upcoming year.  Once September came he couldn’t leave his job three days a week to transport her to the doctor.  There had to be a solution.

I sat in our women’s Bible study the week Sharon went home and laid out their dilemma:  There wasn’t insurance coverage to keep her in the hospital; it had to be outpatient  therapy.  Doug couldn’t transport her three times a week; what could we do?  The Bible is practical, it says, “Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it mightily unto the Lord.”  So we did.  We formed a carpool.

If you drew lines between our church, Sharon’s house, and Rose Medical Center, it would create a near perfect equilateral triangle, each side approximately 45 miles long.  On Monday mornings, at 7:30 a.m., with Jenny strapped  into her car seat and three-year-old David in his (leaving behind five-year-old Jana to wait for the bus with Dad), I would head out Highway 105 to Sharon’s house.  Upon arriving, I’d help her into the wheelchair, pulling it awkwardly out the door, over the rocks and tufts that pass for grass in high-altitude Colorado, maneuver her into the front seat, fold up the steel and leather contraption, wrestle it into the trunk, and set out for Denver, another 45 miles away.

Once at the medical center, the kids and I would wait in the waiting room.  If the weather was nice, we’d go to the park or do a little shopping.  At the end of her session, we’d repeat the trip in reverse, arriving back at our house about 2 p.m.  An entire day that exhausted the kids, Sharon, and me, but necessary to her recovery.

John and Mary, a retired couple in the church, made Wednesday their day.  The most faithful of friends, they never missed one week of taking Sharon to therapy.  Upbeat and optimistic, they provided a lot of encouragement when progress seemed slow.  On Friday, Karen, a home-schooling mom, and her three children did the trip.  The kids practiced times tables or spelling in the car and continued lessons in the waiting room during Sharon’s sessions.

Whenever regulars had other commitments there was an assortment of friends to step in.  Sherrie or Donna was happy to pinch hit.  A second Karen took over halfway through the year when home-schooling Karen needed a break.   By hook or crook, we saw that Sharon got her therapy.

We shared in all her firsts:  First time standing alone, first steps, first time fixing dinner for her family.  The first Sunday she returned to church was a milestone for our congregation.  Doug wheeled her up the stairs and down the main aisle, the high-tops peeking demurely from under the edge of the lap quilt.  We stood and cheered; exuberantly congratulating ourselves for the part we had played in her recovery thus far.  As the months progressed and she got stronger, the sessions were reduced to two days a week, then one day.

One long hard year later, she was finished.  Every time I see Sharon walk, I am reminded of loyal friends who stood staunchly beside her, putting aside their own pursuits for a year to help her regain her life.  I see in living color, love in action: the growth of a church body that learned when a member is hurting, we all hurt, and in order to be whole, we all must engage in the healing process.

[Reprinted by permission from The Pastor’s Wife newsletter]


In 2009 my prayer for you is the fulfillment of a dream you’ve held deep in your heart for a long time. Dreams are fragile, easily destroyed by a puff of disbelief or skepticism. A New Year has always seemed full of hope to me. Like a new snowscape, the days spread out before us pristine and unmarred. I don’t know why I view it in this manner since I’m facing the same situations I was just a few days ago. But for a day or two, the advent of a new year makes me believe that the old ugly past is really done and finished. Today all those situations that, just  yesterday, frustrated and defeated me seem surmountable, doable, and fixable.

That’s the great blessing of Hope. God gave us many great gifts, but to me, Hope is the brightest ornament on the tree, the red on the candy cane, the frosting on the cookie – the extra touch that makes it most special. Hope transcends time, bringing reality to the present while existing in the future.

For each of you, in whatever situation you find yourself, I pray that

•   The dream you’ve been dreaming will be fulfilled this year.

•   The dream you’ve been afraid to dream will gain substance and form in your spirit.

•   The dream you’ve abandoned will be reclaimed

May God bless you in 2009


The LORD bless thee, and keep thee:

The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:

The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless


Numbers 6: 24-27

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