Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The church's house, our home.

The church’s house, our home. The parsonage.

As a new pastor’s wife, I wondered what it would it be like to live in “the church’s house” Would it feel like a fishbowl, or would we be able to make it home? This parsonage in Indiana was where our family began to answer those questions.

The large windows in the front room seemed to amplify my fears of living in a “fishbowl” when we first moved in. Now, I love those windows because they allow me to watch the birds eat, and the tractors drive by, and the burning bushes turn bright red in the fall.

I vividly remember one early lecture from daddy to the little boys. They were not to play so rough, not to throw things at the ceiling fan; they were to respect this house becuase, after all, it is the church’s house.

The church’s house.
But will it ever feel like home, I wondered, if we always think of it that way?

It’s funny, how I once thought those ideas were at war with each other; how I didn’t understand that “the church’s house” can be made “home” just like a church family can be made into true family- by the grace of God and with His help.

So, we moved into this house, by the grace of God, this house given to us to use from our church family; generously prepared, painted, cleaned, and maintained for us by hands that eagerly served God, by those who loved us even before they knew us.

We received it as the gift that it was, and as we made our lives here, we tried to pass on the grace we had received. The church’s house had open doors, and extra seats, and plenty of room in the yard. The blessings in it flowed over us and through us and multiplied until they ran over everywhere, until the yard looked like the aftermath of a toddler frat party.

Here are some snapshots of grace from this house,
this church’s house,
And our temporary but much-loved home

We opened our house often, for babysitting and after school playdates and Christmas parties and Bible studies and children and their mamas and friends of all kinds. We had campfires, pool parties, sleepovers, scavenger hunts, and we did not lose even one kid in the woods or the swimming pool.

Weekly “Coffee, chaos, and comfy pants” at the parsonage, where the kids ran wild and the moms got to talk; where the toddlers got to learn to hold babies, and the big babies met the littlest babies, and the 4-year-olds got to be the "big kids" for once, and they all dressed up in wedding dresses or power ranger suits and flipped over every bucket in the house and covered all things in orange crumbs from the goldfish crackers; and we learned to make bread and laundry soap and how to wear a baby and where to buy cloth diapers and how to let some things go and how to say no; and we talked about husbands and jobs and bodily fluids and placentas and sports and sex and facebook and mom-shaming and we chose mom-encouraging instead. 

The price of adult conversation:

And Wednesdays, when we tried to add meat to the chaos, and the house filled with up to 30 kids, and we shut them in the basement with a movie while we shouted discussion over the heads of the babies on our laps and at our feet. We learned to love our hymnals, and we amazed the babies by joining our voices in song. We prayed awkward prayers, we read old books, and we grew together in God’s word.

I was given the gift of a garden, and advice to go with it. I couldn't wait to get my hands dirty, to see if I could be like my mom, and nurture things beautiful and good.

Little boys at my feet helped plant seeds. Later, they shouted about the sprouts that grew, they stared in awe at the budding plants; they harvested with such delight, I was witness to layer upon layer of miracle.

They painted rocks to label my precious plant, and I added the words of a hymn:
“Future needs in earth’s safe keeping, Thanks be to God.” 

And God granted the growth, nourishing my family and beyond, from these little beds, year after year.

A tiny boy walked with me, observing the words of the hymn, and the painted handprint on the rock beside it. He stops, horrified…“Wait, you’re growing fingers there?”

Our front porch received produce every fall, gifts of love from this farming commnity.

Four children came with us from Michigan when we moved here. We welcomed baby 5 and baby 6 home to the parsonage in the years to follow. This house has seen kid fragments from diapers and baby food to skateboards and algebra books.

Friends and strangers have cried in our living room, and the children have, too, but for different reasons. We have handed-out bandages and encouraged with the Word of God times without number, and we have received the same from our dear church family during our days of crying on couches.

The church's house,
the parsonage,
our temporary and much-loved home.
May it ever be a place of blessing.

dear White Creek church family,
for giving us a lovely home here.

May this place continue to keep open arms and doors
that it may be a blessing to many more.

We will take so much Indiana-flavored love with us to our new home,
thanks to the grace of God in this place, 
given through your hands.

He himself will be our home,
as He is yours, 
as we travel onward.

Pray for us please,
 as we set our roots down in our new home,
that we may receive it also as the gift that it is,
and that it, too, may be a blessing to many.


  1. I feel the ache with you in this. There is something so dear, so special about a parsonage. Even more so when our children grow up there. Such a gift from God.

  2. I sit here in gymnastics class awaiting my daughter and crying for you as I read this post. It brings to the surface my own feelings of loss in leaving my country home and family, and I weep for that loss in your lives.

    There is a special rejuvenating power in the country. Breathe in that peace, love and simplicity every time you return for a visit. And do return for visits - not just for the friendship and talk, but for the power of God that seeps up from the earth through the soles of your feet and into your heart and spirit. He is easily found in the quiet and peace of the country, where you can hear your heart and mind over the myriad noises around you. You will find small places in the city where you can get that, but it's bolder and with less interruption in the countryside.

    Those visits and rejuvenation are what will bolster your soul as you traverse the bustle and heartaches found in the city.

    1. We are working to get our first return trip planned and on the calendar. It's funny how you can simultaneously enjoy learning and new place and ACHE for an old one all at once. I am finding those "small places" as you say, but I will always need regular doses of the open air, bold, fresh country.

      Thank you for your words, and your understanding Barb.


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