Susannah Spurgeon Legacy

7 Ways Susannah Spurgeon Left a Legacy of Faith

I was given this book by Moody Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The Legacy of Susannah Spurgeon

Susannah SpurgeonYou have likely heard the saying, “Behind every great man is an even greater woman.”  Susannah Spurgeon is just such a woman. Wife of the infamous preacher, Charles Spurgeon, she was an integral part of his life and ministry.  She was behind him in prayer support but also beside him in ministry.

Even after reading only the introduction and first chapter I wished that this book had been available to me 30 years ago as I was becoming a pastor’s wife. If I had the time all in one sitting, I would have read this book to completion in a day. What a beautiful example of a Christian wife, pastor’s wife or not.

Continue reading

Favorite Christmas Books

Eight Favorite Christmas Books You Need in Your Home

I will honor Christmas in my heart,

and try to keep it all the year.

– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Christmas Traditions

One thing I have tried to instill in my children is the love of reading. One way I tried to do this was to purchase each child a classic book each Christmas. At the same time, I also bought myself a Christmas book that I wanted. Usually, it would be in the form of a coffee table book; something pretty to sit around but also available to readers.

Today I thought I would share with you some of the Christmas books I have purchased over the years. Continue reading

Pastor appreciation

October is Pastor Appreciation Month

Having been in the ministry, I have conflicting feelings about Pastor Appreciation month. On the one hand,  it is a very good reminder to the people to take a moment and let their pastor know how much you love them. On the other hand, it can be a very depressing time when a pastor hears about all the things other churches did for their pastor and your church did nothing at all to show that they love & appreciate you!

Now that my husband has retired from full-time ministry, I’ve decided that it wouldn’t be self-serving to remind everyone to take some time and really show your pastor that you appreciate him. Church members, you don’t have to wait to be prompted by your board to do something, do it on your own or at least remind the board members so they don’t forget. Get some personal ideas here.

Maybe you don’t realize the sacrifices made by pastors AND their families.

There are many.

  1. Pastoral families have left home and family to come and serve your church. They may be 100s or even 1000s of miles away from home. On top of that, they are seldom able to go home to see their families. They may even miss important events, like reunions and funerals, due to their service to you.
  2. In many cases, pastors are paid a minimal salary which barely meets their living expenses, even when a parsonage is provided.
  3. In order to get a degree and ordination in ministry, a minimum of 4-6 years is required at a private Christian College. Many times pastors are in serious debt before they even get started. They probably met their spouse at college, so they both have a lot of debt to pay on that minimal salary.
  4. Many pastors have a compassionate heart and they give much to the church financially and time-wise.
  5. Pastors are on call 24/7. They have missed many a family meal and their kid’s ballgames due to a need within the church. I have known many, ourselves included, who have canceled vacations, even after they left home, due to a need in the church.

These are just a few of the sacrifices made by your pastor and why you should show a little appreciation, personally and corporately, once in a while.

So …. maybe you are wondering,

pastor appreciation

photo credit: Canva modified by Mandy

I’m glad you asked!

I did a little survey of all my ministry friends. I asked them, “What is the best thing a church has ever done for you?” and here are their replies…

Top Ideas

  1. Cash is always good.  Cash helps pay a few bills that they might be coming short on. Also, since Christmas is just around the corner, it may help them provide a nice Christmas for their children.

Cash can be given in the form of a bonus check (one week’s pay?) from the church board, or a love offering from the members. Give it in a nice card or something creative, like a money tree. You could tell your church in advance so they can all participate and bring their own handwritten notes with cash in them.

Cash offerings for special needs is great too. Our church raised over $1,000 when they heard I would be going to Mayo Clinic.

This is a good time to consider a salary raise. In our denomination, the suggestion is every time giving is increased by $1000 a month, you should consider a raise or  bonus for your pastor. Board members, how about bringing the issue up every time you get a raise yourself? At least consider a cost of living increase every year.

2.  Laymen Sunday.  Surprise him by taking over the service and have a special service all about him. Have members read poems, do skits, give/write words of encouragement, give awards or certificates, sing songs. Follow this up with a nice lunch in his honor. Don’t forget the spouse and children. They have sacrificed much as well. At least give the spouse some flowers.

Simple but Helpful

3. A Month of Meals. Have the parishioners sign up for a day in October. Each one can do whatever they like: a) invite the pastoral family to their home for dinner b) gift cards to restaurants  c) bring in a hot meal d) take him/he & his wife/the family out for lunch.  This is an excellent way for the pastor and his family to get to know all the people.

4. Food Pounding.  Now I’m not talking about the “clean out your pantry” type food pounding. One of our churches came to me and had me make a list of grocery items. The  board had me write down all the normal food items that most of us probably purchase every week. They didn’t stop there; but, instructed me to write down those food items that we liked and would buy, “if money were no object.” You know, those things that we like to treat ourselves and our children to occasionally.  They told us to make a nice long list. Then the church members selected items and purchased them for us. It was an amazing food pounding. We had a freezer and a pantry full of food. My grocery bill dropped significantly for several months. Now that was a blessing!

Don’t Foget Childcare

5. Dinner for Two and Childcare Provided. What couple wouldn’t love a romantic date night with no cost to them? Find a 5 star restaurant and get a gift certificate. Then arrange for someone to take care of the children. (And take away his cell phone. Let the board members take care of any issue that arise during that time.)

Ways to Promote Getting to Know Pastor

6. Photo Album with pictures and handwritten notes from everyone. This sounds like a wonderful thing to do at the beginning of a pastorate. What an awesome way to start making face connections with the people.

Something Extra Special

7.  All Expense Paid Getaway. Every pastor and wife can use a break now and again. They often don’t take the vacation time they are allocated. This could be a weekend getaway or a week or two long trip. Your pastor will return refreshed and ready to serve the church even better than before. There are many choices here … a) retreat centers for pastors. Many places give discounts for pastors.  b) a Bed & Breakfast c) a mountain cabin d) a beach/lake house e) cruise f) trip to Hawaii or Israel g) It could be that someone in your church has a vacation home somewhere they would share or offer at a discount.

Fringe Benefits

8. Pay Student Loans.  One couple reported that their church made their student loan payments for over 12 years while they served there. What a huge blessing.

9.  A Car. You might have to have some connections with a local car dealer. We knew a pastor who received a new car every year. Think about it … no church wants their pastor to break down in an old clunker trying to get to the hospital to be with a church member. This would be a way to keep that from happening.  [Just as a benefit, even allowing him/her to drive the church van would be awesome. It keeps the van in good driving order. And it’s advertisement for the church while he drives it around town.]

Remember Special Occasions

10. His and Her Watches. I hadn’t heard this one before but this is a very nice thoughtful gift, especially for a special year such as 25 years in ministry or serving your church.

11. Special Gift Items. Listen closely and learn the interests of your pastor and wife. If you listen, you will get some great gift ideas. Items that they are really wanting but cannot afford. What are their hobbies? Even if you can’t provide the item, you may be able to give a gift certificate towards it. Do they like to golf? Give a membership to a country club. You get the idea. Giving them what they need to take breaks is a benefit that reaps rewards.

PASTORS ARE PEOPLE, Too!

Remember that just because you are giving a gift to a minister doesn’t mean it has to be religious in nature. He probably has all the Bibles he needs. A nice picture for the living room is nice, but it doesn’t have to be a picture of Jesus or a church. Pastors are regular people too! Of course, that doesn’t mean he might not enjoy a new notepad computer to preach from either. 

12. Please don’t ignore the pastor’s wife and his children. They are part of the ministry whether she is working elsewhere or not. She has given many sacrifices and she has done more than you know for the church. Something small goes a  long way…. maybe flowers or something for her hobby. A toy or game for the children or maybe a few dollars depending on the age. If you love the spouse and children, your pastor will be more than thrilled and the church will reap the benefits.

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click above to print the list.

 

2 Things to remember:

  1.  If at all possible, don’t wait until the last Sunday in October to plan your special day. Do it early and he will be more surprised. When you wait until the last week, it kinda feels like your forgot and pulled something together at the last moment.
  2. Remember your associate pastors too. They may be bi-vocational or not, but they put in a lot of unknown hours to work with your teens, create awesome worship, or whatever ministry they do.
  3.  Don’t forget any retired pastors or widows of pastors. A small token gift will go a long way for those no longer in ministry. Sometimes, they feel completely forgotten even though they have served for many years.

Have fun with this. Remember that a little appreciation and encouragement goes a long way. Click here for another post on “Ways to Love Your Pastor all Year Long!

 

Mandy Farmer

Suggested reading, especially for church board members.

This is an affiliate link. IF you click thorugh and purchase this book, we willl receive a small portion of the sale price which helps us keeps this website running. Thanks.

 

 

Book Review: Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together

I have been waiting years for a women’s mentoring resource like this.

Book Review AdornedADORNED

Living out the Beauty of the Gospel Together

by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

{There are affiliate links on the page}

{I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review}

As a pastor’s wife, I have tried different times to encourage our ladies to live out the Titus 2 woman model. I used Bible Studies on the topic but I never seemed able to really get the point across. I could never explain it all well and why we should live this kind of life. Partly, I had older women I respected questioning the principle and I didn’t know how to answer them. But mainly, I didn’t have the right mentoring resource to help me.

Today, we have millennial women begging for help to find their way. But the situation is worse, the older women believe that the younger women do not want their help nor do they want to hear their message. This really isn’t true.

And I believe “Adorned” is the answer.

Continue reading

Book Review : Wounded By God’s People

We tend to think that God’s servants are protected against being wounded, but that is just not true.

As a matter of fact, I would venture to say that most ministers of the Word are hurt at least once in their ministry. I so appreciate Anne for being vulnerable and opening up to us about her own life while she teaches us through the life of Hagar on how to deal with hurt.

It is in the story of Hagar, that we find the name of God, El Roi, The God Who Sees Me. He cares so much about each one of us and the plight in which we find ourselves. AND he is watching over us.

What I learned was the God Who Sees Me cares deeply for His own. He sees each and every one of us. The love that He has for us is unfathomable. He has a plan for us but He also allows us to make our own decisions. So He waits for us to call out to Him to rescue Him.

Studying the plight of Hagar has helped me face my own situation.

It has taught me to look at where I may have failed. I have been warned against wounding others in my hurt. It has taught me to forgive regardless of what the other party may or may not do towards repentance and reconciliation.

This book would help anyone who has been hurt not only by the church but by anyone.

In this age where we seem to think everyone is bullying everyone else. I think we need to start looking at how Jesus handled those who bullied Him. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

If you have ever been hurt by someone, read this book.

Expecting Great things;

Mandy Farmer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below you will find an affiliate link to purchase this book and Nan Jones book Perils of a Pastor’s wife. Nan writes from experience about being rejected congregations. Thank you.


ATTENTION PASTORS AND SPOUSES

Have you felt abandoned by God in the lonely fires of ministry? 

This Group is expressly for men and women trying to find Joy in the Wilderness after losing

their pastorate. Please share this with others you know who are struggling with the transition.

This is a place for support and encouragement. No judgment, just a shoulder to lean on.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO JOIN.

Joy in the WIlderness

Facebook Group for Hurting Shepherds

Effective Discipleship for Teens

discipleship[p This is my sister, Kandy Chimento. Years ago, she developed a wonderful discipleship program for teen girls. It was an amazing program and I have asked her to share a little about it.


Kandy Chimento has been in ministry with her husband since before their marriage nearly 30 years ago.  They have been blessed to minister in states from Texas to Wisconsin to Missouri and back to Texas again.  Though she served in children’s, youth, young adults, and lead pastors, her passion is discipleship!   She loves being a mom to their 2 grown-up children, Tyler and Christa.  Gardening, crafts, and quilting take up most of her free time.  They have recently downsized their empty nest and moved to the country, and love enjoying the big Texas outdoors! You can follow her writing about Gettin’ Back to Her Roots

 

“Women of Virtue”

One of my favorite endeavors is discipleship.  In my own experience, I became convinced that effective discipleship can be more of a life-changer than a hundred sermons.  One of my prime times of spiritual growth came through a small discipleship group I belonged to in my 20’s, and by the on-going mentoring of an older godly woman. When we were youth pastors in Kansas City, I felt led to create a discipleship course for high school girls. Continue reading

The Peril’s of a Pastor’s Wife ~ Book Review

The Perils of a Pastor’s Wife

by Nan Jones

The Perils of A Pastor’s Wife will speak to your deepest wounds and help you find God’s Presence through it all. Sweet Sister—somewhere, somehow, somebody knows. You are not alone.

This post contains affiliate links

 

How did I find this book?

In order to do some blogging to assist pastors and wives, I ran a questionaire a few months ago. Nan Jones was one that answered my questionaire. I went to her blog to read some of her writings. After reading several of her posts, I decided I should read her book, since I was in the same predicament that she was writing about. It was one of the best decisions I have made.

 Who will Benefit from this Book?

Perils ...”  is written to help other pastor’s wives who are dealing with the sad situation of being dismissed by a church. This is something that is happening in alarming numbers these days. While this book was written from the viewpoint of a woman and written for women, I think men could benefit as well. It is a wonderful book for those of us journeying the path of rejection and being in transition (without a “flock”).

My Personal Experience.

I found that God used the very some scriptures AND books to inspire Nan as He did me in my journey with chronic pain and then our dismissal from our last church.  Hannah Hurnard’s “Hinds’ Feet in High Places” is an amazing book and Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts” which set me on the right path for my journey.
Her words are so gentle and encouraging. She shows us how to respond and get through it all with grace and (eventual) forgiveness.
Ministers in transition need to buy this book.
Mandy Farmer

Have you been hurt by the church?

Have you felt abandoned by God in the lonely fires of ministry? The Perils of A Pastor’s Wife will speak to your deepest wounds and help you find God’s Presence through it all. Sweet Sister—somewhere, somehow, somebody knows. You are not alone.

JOY IN THE WILDERNESS

This Group is expressly for men and women trying to find Joy in the Wilderness

after losing their pastorate. Please share this with others you may know

who are struggling with the transition.

This is a place for support and encouragement. No judgment, just a shoulder to lean on.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO JOIN.

Joy in the WIlderness

Facebook Group for Hurting Shepherds

 

 


PKs: How to Help Them Survive You and Your Ministry?

Parsonage Survival

We all wonder how we can help our PKs (Pastor Kids) survive growing up in the parsonage. 

In our ministry, we had one very special D.S. that had a heart for  PKs and did so many things to help them survive their parents ministry. I asked him to give us a few pointers today.

How Can You Survive Having A(Those) PK(s) Living In Your Home?

What Can You Do to Help Them Survive You and Your Ministry? Continue reading

10 Ways to Get on a Budget and Stick to It

staying on a BudgetIt’s quite a challenge to stay on a budget when you are in the ministry. Our hearts want to spend money on projects and ideas for the church. But sometimes, the funds are just not there and the temptation is to pull out the credit card. As easy as this is, it’s important for us as stewards of God’s resources, to resist the temptation and spend only what we have the cash to spend.

I asked a friend of mine to share how their pastoral family manages their budget. She does the budget thing so much better than I. We should all take this very seriously and try live within our means. Chrystal will take over from here.

Mandy Farmer


Getting on a Budget and Staying On It

Hi, Friends, I’m Chrystal and I’m excited to be sharing on Mandy & Michele’s blog today!

the SmallwoodsMy family blogs over at The Smallwood Parsonage about all things life…recipes, simple living, adventures, gardening, music and book reviews, and gatherings all from the unique perspective of a parsonage family. My husband and I have been in full-time ministry close to 20 years. We are both ordained, though at this season in life he is the breadwinner, serving as the senior pastor of our rural Pennsylvania church. I am currently a stay-at-home, homeschooling, blogging, sock-washing, dog-cuddling mom, who still keeps her hands busy in ministry.

Over the years God has led us to live a simple, intentional lifestyle…

… teaching us every day what it means to let go of material goods and dwell on the important. It hasn’t been easy, and it certainly has been a journey, but let me explain how we have gotten here. After we had been married for three years, both graduated from college and beginning our careers in ministry we wanted to start our family. Hopes and dreams were building as we both planned and prepared for the babies God would bless us with. I had always dreamed of having four children and becoming pregnant with our first baby only made me even more excited. Life, though, and pregnancy didn’t go as we dreamed it would. In the following three years we miscarried twice, suffered the loss of a twin baby to Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, and gave birth to two beautiful girls. It was a difficult three years.

After losing three children, we decided that life could either become a misery or a celebration.

We chose that it would become a celebration and we continue to live that way 15 years later.

We choose to …

  • a simple life,
  • intentional living.
  • spend our money on making memories, rather than on what some might consider essentials.
  • believe in eating from the earth’s bounty.
  • believe in giving back as much as we can.
  • aim to live life beautifully and authentically.

 

Purchase Chrystal’s book about her miscarriages, Choosing Joy

 

We live on a small income by American standards, though we realize it is much compared to much of the world.

Many pastor’s families live on small budgets. But living on a small budget doesn’t mean life can’t be well lived. We think it means just the opposite. A small budget forces us to consider each purchase, each dollar, what our priorities are. It gives opportunities to decide what matters and what doesn’t. I’m listing below some things we keep in mind and practice to help us live within our means, perhaps encouraging some of you to implement some new ways to live within your means as well.

First, I want to let you know eight things we DON’T include in our budget:

1. Housing-Like many pastors we live in the parsonage and all basic housing expenses are paid for by the church.
2. Cable television– We just don’t have it. *see below for an explanation
3. Home Phone: The church pays for our basic local service and Jeremy’s cell phone; we use our cell phones unlimited talk and text plan for long distance.
4. Internet-the girls charter school reimburses for internet expense for their students. So while we pay this out every month, it is reimbursed to us at the end of the school year. We really only pay for the internet three months of the year when school is not in session.
5. Car Maintenance-Jeremy drives the local ambulance and works one day a week as an EMT. These extra incomes, along with weddings and funeral honorariums are put aside for car maintenance.
6. Car Payments-our cars have been paid off for a number of years.
7. Home Educating resources-We use an online public charter school and they provide all the needed materials for the girl’s education free of charge.
8. Debt-We have no consumer debt.

Here are some practical things we have found help us to be good stewards of our resources.

Maybe you will find a new nugget of information that will help you to live within your means:

1. Tithe. This must be a priority. God can do exceedingly more with 90% of our income than we can ever do with 100% of it.

2. Make a budget and stick to it. This might take some homework if you’re not an active budgeter. There are a number of solid Christian resources out there regarding budgeting tips and various ways to budget. They are worth a look. If you know someone who is a great budgeter, financial planner ask them for help. Decide who will be in charge of the budget-both husband and wife? Just one or the other? I am better at budgeting and bill paying and daily running of the family and household. Jeremy is better at saving. He is in charge of the envelopes (explained in #3)

3. Use an envelope system for keeping the cash. A portion of our weekly income gets taken from the bank and put in envelopes for safe-keeping. Extra things like monthly bills to be paid, money for clothes, summer church camp fees, vacation, bulk meat purchase, family treats, and Christmas are included in these envelopes. It might not seem like there is much money at the beginning of saving in envelopes, but that money adds up quickly. When a monthly bill is needing to be paid simply take the money from the envelope put it in the bank and pay the bill. If Vacation or Christmas is coming just take the cash from the envelope.

4. Cash in those coins. We keep a small green glass chicken next to our kitchen sink and a large water bucket next to the washing machine. Any and all change (that’s left from my kids raiding the chicken to go to Christian Skate Night at the local Roller Rink with the youth group) gets put into either the chicken or the bucket. We recently took our coins to a Coinstar machine at the grocery store to convert it to cash. I didn’t want to have to pay a percentage of the total so instead we redeemed our coins for over $100 on a no-fee required Amazon gift card and put the gift card in the Christmas envelope.

5. Commit to a No-Spend Month – For one month, don’t spend money on anything that isn’t a basic need or an emergency. Keep in mind children’s birthdays and holidays when planning a No-Spend Month.

6. Slash your spending.

A. Groceries: The USDA says that a typical family of four (2 adults/2 children) will spend between $150 and $300 per week on groceries that’s $600-$1200 per month! Use coupons, cut out Starbucks and going out to eat, cook from scratch.

B. Entertainment: Our daughter Anna receives free books in return for her review on our blog, play board games, host a potluck, enjoy a family movie night, start a new tradition. catch a free concert in town, go for a hike. There are lots of things to do that don’t cost money.

C. Shop at Thrift Stores: there are some serious name brand, high-quality clothing at thrift stores.

D. Exercise: Walk or run daily, take advantage of a friend giving away exercise equipment, head to a local lake and swim for free.

E. Extra-curriculars: limit the children to one extra-curricular activity per season-this cuts down on time and money. If you have someone who will teach a skill for free ask them or barter in exchange for lessons.

F. DIY as much as possible. There are so many tutorials online for DIY projects we almost have no excuse to not use them.

G. Use what you have: Use up the freezer foods, watch the old movies, wear the tie you’ve had for years but is still in good condition.

7. Get rid of non-essentials. We haven’t had cable for 17 years and have survived. For years we used antenna tv only, but in our current home, located in the mountains, we have to pay 20$ for basic cable or we wouldn’t get any networks, PBS or the “Old Shows” as my kids call them.

8. Prioritize: Decide what is and isn’t important to your family.

  •  Do you want to see the world? BUDGET
  • Do you want to take an expensive vacation? BUDGET
  • Saving for the kid’s college or wedding? BUDGET
  • Want to treat your spouse to a nice Valentine’s Day Dinner? BUDGET

9. I realize not everyone has time for preserving food as we do. It takes a considerable amount of effort and time but buying foods while they are in season, or gardening is very cost-effective, supports local farmers, allows God to provide you with food that He created, and is overall better for health and taste. Cooking at home, buying seasonal foods, freezing, canning, drying or dehydrating foods are all options for making healthier, budget-friendly food choices.

10. Organize and Simplify-One way to live within your means in to know what you already have. At one point years ago I realized I owned 20 glass vases. Twenty! I quickly got rid of all but 5 or 6 of them that had special meaning to me, but the others went to the thrift store. Getting and staying organized will tell you what you do and don’t need. Anything that’s extra? Get rid of it by giving it to thrift stores, social service agencies, needy neighbors. Be cautious about getting rid of family antiques though-you’ll likely never get them back.

Lastly, but most importantly, we must Pray and give God Lordship over our finances.

Ask Him …

  • .. to provide in miraculous ways.
  • .. to show you what is and isn’t important.
  • .. for a financial blessing.
  • .. to make you and your spouse partners in financial matters.

Always allow God to provide for you through miracles and through His people. If people want to share the bounty of their gardens, or buy those new tires for your car or offer to help in some other way let them.

Allowing people to be vessels of God’s grace to you is a blessing to you and to them. Allow them to be the givers God is asking them to be.

Chrystal

Preparedness Kit for the Storms in Ministry

preparedness kit

Everyone knows that you must be prepared for a hurricane. More than one storm will inevitably come sometime every fall, it’s just how it is.

Most assuredly, no matter where you live, there are natural storms or disasters that you need to be prepared for. There are certain things that you always have ready for when the storm hits. When I lived up north, we carried certain things in the trunk of our car in case of emergency in the deep cold winters.

 

It’s true for your ministry too.

You need to have a preparedness kit at hand for whenever the storms come. And they will come. I guarantee it. Continue reading