Archive for July, 2010

Last week’s poll highlighted the challenge of sitting with small squiggling people in church. We love to have them there (such a blessing and encouragement!), but we DO WISH they’d not distract everyone else from concentrating on the Lord (or on all the other things that are already distracting them).

So this week’s poll is on your preferred method for keeping children quiet in church (or – thanks for highlighting this aspect, Icklesis – helping them to stay focussed so that they can participate more fully). As last week, you can add other suggestions, and you can vote for more than one. I’m keeping the results secret this time, though (until I publish them). Oh the suspense!

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I’m a Vicar’s wife, don’cha know, and I’m sooo respectable. And that’s how I like my sin as well. Respectable. Not too in-your-face. Obviously people have to think that I’m doing okay, but I’m not going to bother tackling anything that I can get away with…

So when I came across Jerry Bridges’ book on the subject a few months ago, I thought I ought to read it. But, since I struggle with the respectable sin of lack of self control (Chapter 13), I’ve still not finished it. Then I saw that Nicole of 168 hours fame is blogging through the book in her bookgroup on the Australian ministry wives site In Tandem.

As Nicole points out in her first post

It’s (obviously) not a book that was written specifically for ministry wives, but it could have been!  When you think about it, there is a lot about the kind of people who commonly end up as ministry wives and the kind of situation that we are in that means we are less likely to be involved in public, flagrant, scandalous sins than in all sorts of other sins that we keep secret or that the church culture we belong to quietly tolerates.

So I’m going to finish this book over the holidays. Why not join me in some summer reading, and comment on In Tandem or on here with your thoughts?

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So, I imagine you’re all keen to see the proper results for last week’s poll. I have had a lot of fun looking at these. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.

As you can see, the main concerns are about others in the congregation – their presence or absence and whether you need to speak them later. A good thing I think, as church is a family and we need to look out for one another. I obviously missed out a major category, as many of the ‘other’ comments indicated that people worry about their children in church. This is certainly true for me. I mean, how many times do I have to tell the Joker that drumming his feet is not helpful? And is there any chance that the Queen will actually be in the church building at the start of the service? I think concerns over children also count as concern for others – both the kids themselves and those who might be distracted by them.

Answer Votes Percentage
Who is there/missing and why
Who you have to speak to after the service
What people are wearing
What you are rostered for & whether you’re prepared for it
The Sunday lunch
Nothing at all
How you’re going to catch the Vicar before he leaves for lunch

And here are the ‘other’ answers, categorised (vaguely):


  • How many breadsticks it is safe to feed a toddler during one service
  • Sometimes thigs my adult children wil be doing at their churches….pray 4 them.
  • How to keep my kids quiet
  • Keeping our kids under control (why do we always sit at the front)
  • Where’s my son gone?
  • wait, only 6 kids today?
  • how much longer the children will behave themselves for ! 🙂
  • how to stop my baby crawling on the altar!
  • What my children are getting up to
  • is my young son behaving/keeping him happy until the peace which is his fave bit
  • The baby (feeding/sleeping/keeping quiet etc)
  • work, children, visiting parents later

Thoughts about the service

  • Additional comments on sermon to make to husband/vicar later
  • wishing there was more silence before the start of a service!
  • Numbers of communicants!
  • What is this song supposed to mean?
  • Will the songpro and sound desk work this week?
  • Wow, such and such is here again, praise God.
  • How amazing churches are and the astounding effort that went into building them

The Week Ahead

planning what I’m going to shop for this wk?
To do list

Away with the Fairies

  • the bird table outside the church window!
  • Daydreaming

Thanks all for participating. Next week’s poll – best ways to keep children quiet in church 🙂

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Earlier this week Fiona left a comment on my post about Ten Great Things About Being a Vicar’s Wife. She is looking for advice as her husband begins ministry later this year. Here’s what she asked:

It quite hard as I just would like to to my very best. I have two children and its a second marriage
I totally adore and love him and we all want to support him .
Perhaps if someone was in the same sistuation it would be a great help for ideas and suggestions.

I’m going to give my list of top ten tips below, but it would be great if others could add to the list too. I’m not claiming to speak with much authority, having only been a ‘proper’ Vicar’s Wife for just over a year, but this is what has helped me to date…

  1. Keep your own relationship with God going – you may have to be creative (on-line sermons, prayer partners, conferences, retreats, support groups).
  2. Prioritise your family above the parish. Keep on loving and supporting your husband.
  3. Say ‘no’ more than you think you should – you can’t do everything. Better to do a little in church well than everything badly. Or do nothing apart from being a godly wife and mother.
  4. Don’t throw yourself into everything when you first arrive – take time to choose the best. Try to do something together – we love having people over – Sunday lunches, barbeques barbecues, tea parties.
  5. Play to your strengths and don’t feel the need to conform to a stereotype of the perfect minister’s wife. So don’t bake if you can’t bear it, buy some nice biscuits. Avoid children if they stress you, visit kind old ladies. Don’t arrange the flowers, use your best hammer drill to put shelves up.
  6. Make sure (as far as possible) that your husband has support from accountability partners or a spiritual director. And help him to prioritise his day off. If you’re able, take that day off with him.
  7. If you live in a Vicarage or Manse, be ruthless with junk mail in the early days. Send it all back with ‘remove from mailing list’ on it or phone organisations up if you don’t want their stuff. Ecclesiastical junk mail has been the bane of my life in the last year and a bit. I mean, how many catalogues for chasubles does an evangelical minster need?! Especially one who wears robes about once a year. In the UK the Mailing Preference Service and Telephone Preference Service are your friends.
  8. Take time to laugh. We watch a lot of tv comedy. It helps.
  9. Don’t answer the phone every time it rings. Call screening and an answerphone are very helpful.
  10. Take proper holidays away from the parish. We have nearly three weeks in the summer (plus three other weeks the rest of the year) and find that we need that length of time to properly unwind.

What are others’ top tips? What have you learnt about doing your best?

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When I’m stressed I like to comfort read. Something I know well and that makes me feel like all will turn out happily ever after. When I don’t have time to read the Book of Revelation, Pride and Prejudice usually does the trick. So this one could be the answer:

And she ships internationally! Total cost $22+$5.75=cheaper than last week’s t-shirt. [HT Abraham Piper]

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After Monday’s blogpost showing Joyce Grenfell worrying during the opening hymn about her stock boiling dry, I thought it would be interesting to find out what you all worry about during the service (when you’re not concentrating on the things of the Lord, which of course we’d all prefer to do, but it is so hard not to be distracted).

[Edit: I think you can vote for more than one, but as it’s the first poll I’ve done, I’m not sure – can someone let me know?!]

I’ll leave it open for a week before publishing the results…

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I Need This

It’s been a tricky few weeks here in parish. Relationships can be really hard in places where people are already bruised by life in general. So I think I need to get (and wear) this t-shirt. In fuchsia I think, don’t you?

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Well, a small sample of it. Not listed are the additional Vicar’s wife’s concerns of ‘why isn’t so-and-so here?’, ‘has the Vicar remembered to bring his sermon notes?’ and ‘am I on coffee or Sunday school this morning?’

Happy Monday morning all.

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Well, gooseberry harvest anyway. After all my panicking about mould, I am extremely pleased to report that our gooseberry bush has produced masses of fruit. So: the solution to American gooseberry mildew is to catch it early and chop it off. So far we’ve had about 4lb of fruit from the bush and there’s still more to come. We’ve had gooseberry fool and gooseberry tart. – both delicious, though I say so myself. Not sure what to make next – any suggestions?

A very pleasing crop

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I only wear my pinny for special occasions

Inspired by Steve Tilley’s list of reasons to be married to a priest I thought I’d add a Vicar’s wife’s perspective. We’ve not watched the offending episode of Rev yet – we were interrupted before viewing on iPlayer by the Vicar’s diocesan golf team partner arriving to stay over so that he and the Vicar could get an early start off to their tournament today.

Anyway, I love being a Vicar’s wife, and here are some of the reasons why:

  1. I have a husband who is serious about loving me as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5v25).
  2. We get to work as a team in all sorts of ways (hospitality, church strategy, cleaning the churchyard…)
  3. My husband is around to take kids to and from school, take them swimming and eat with the family most nights.
  4. He’s involved with the kids’ primary school and knows their teachers better than I do.
  5. I love it that he has lunch with me most days.
  6. He has to chop logs outside my kitchen window to get the fuel we need to heat our Vicarage. This is a very good view when I am washing up.
  7. He reads parenting books and works hard to help our children to grow up as believers and not to be wild and disobedient.
  8. His job comes with a huge home which is great for hospitality, even if it is a deep freeze come January.
  9. Parish life is never, ever dull.
  10. And finally, as I was told in a seminar on a Vicar’s wives conference once: ‘The advantages of midweek daytime sex cannot be overstated’.

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