A Chat With Valerie
"Hello everyone, I’m Valerie! God has gifted me with many skills and talents, (along with my fair share of weaknesses). I am a leader by nature, a type A personality and everyone seems to notice (and point out) how organized I am. Which means I get far more done than the average person -- which is good and bad. :) In the past 15 years, I have found a natural fit (calling) in leading women's Bible study, teaching, and public speaking. I get so much joy out of leading ladies through a new section of Scripture, through showing a new Christian women the joy in God's plan for husband's and wives to love one another, and being in the Word with ladies. And God has given me opportunities to study and teach on "touchy" subjects with women that pastors and men just can't connect as well on."
"You do sound busy, Valerie, and you haven't even mentioned all you do at home. Please share!"
"I have to admit, my days are rather crazy. I often don't tell people everything I am involved in because it makes me sound completely insane. During the school year, I get up early to get 3 of 4 boys ready for school. After driving 30 minutes across the Twin Cities, I leave 3 of our sons at St. John Ev Lutheran School. Then, our 2 year-old and I embark on a fun morning of errands and working out at the club. Then lunch at home, nap time for Emet and working at home for me. It's usually a mix of housework, True North Campus Ministry work and various volunteer responsibilities -- including planning the WELS Women's Leadership Conference as my part on the WELS Women's Ministry Committee and events for Pastors' Wives' Renewal (my ministry for wives married to WELS & ELS pastors).
Then we head out at 3:30pm to pick the brothers up from school at 4pm, back home to make dinner and spend some family time. Tuesday & Wednesday, my husband heads back to campus for Bible study and Thursday night is my night to head to campus for Women's Bible study at a coffee shop. Bedtime for the boys is around 8pm and if my husband is at Bible study I use the alone time for either working on a deadline or doing a few fun projects (sewing, reading, making cards, crafting, etc). Two days a week I teach piano and flute lessons at St John’s. So the 2 year old stays home with a sitter while I stay at school half of Tuesday and all of Wednesday teaching 12 lessons. Tuesday afternoons I head into church for some copying and various office work that needs to get done for True North.
** 1.7.13 ** "Just an update for you -- my husband accepted a Call at the end of August, and we now live in Portland, OR. Crazy! My life has changed quite a bit and definitely for the better as new opportunities to serve and meet more Christians is amazing. I have a little more time on my hands, which has been handy for unpacking. I'm slowly learning how I can serve at our new congregation. We love it out here."
"How did you get started planning events for Pastors' Wives' Renewal?"
"Actually, it's a little ironic that I started the Pastors' Wives' Renewal ministry. Since my husband took the Call to True North right after we were married and they hired me as the Ministry Coordinator there, I was very unique as far as pastor wives go. A few years into our marriage, I had the chance to go to a district conference with him (leaving the kids with grandma). But as a young mother and wife of the pastor, I missed being in regular Bible study. So instead of joining the ladies for the day of planned sight seeing, I stayed with the men and sat in on their papers. Then the 2nd day, I attended the study they had planned for the wives. As I listened to these ladies discuss and share and get off topic onto related things that were on their hearts I happened to think that "we need more of this; these ladies need more opportunities to share, discuss, and build each other up while being centered in God's word.
I shared the idea to plan something like this with other ladies and soon found a number of others who wanted to join in. The first one was such a hit that we just kept going. And then we started brainstorming other ways we could be an encouragement, help, resource and support to ladies who might be more remote, be struggling with issues, or just be looking for a little boost. PWR has been a joy and I love to hear when I've been a help. Isn't that the greatest always, the best boost to keep going, when just one person lets you know that you were an encouragement and help?"
"What a great ministry, Valerie! I’m curious, who is your strongest Christian mentor?"
"Hopefully it doesn't sound too cliche, but my mother has always been the greatest model of faith for me. In many ways we are total opposites. And yet we're so alike it's scary sometimes. My mother is quiet, thoughtful, encouraging, and steadfast. She never said much, but it was just understood that you didn't miss church or Bible study on Sunday morning. She was at choir practice every week. We baked, we served, she had me involved right there with her at church. She didn't have the opportunity for Christian High School and College, but that didn't stop her from making sure I had that education. And she had the desire to learn; like I said, she never missed Bible study.She had wanted to be a Christian school teacher herself and met and married a Sem student at Concordia (LCMS). Then he was killed and her life changed drastically.
She would have made a wonderful grade school teacher (the older high school students suit my temperament much better. ;) It's sort of funny that in a way, I, of my own choice and God's design, have some of the life she had desired more than I (truth be told, I was never going to marry a pastor -- God does have a sense of humor).I still strive for her quiet reserve. Her wisdom and listening skills. What a great model for a headstrong daughter who has a tendency toward "jumping in" and "speaking up" before thinking things through." :)
"How would you describe your unique role as a woman?"
"Wow, this is tougher to answer than I thought. There are really 2 parts to this question... "your" unique role focuses on me specifically and the gifts God has given me, and then of course, how being created a woman has it's own unique aspects. I think the biggest part of being a woman, I discovered quite by accident.
I always saw myself as a public figure - I went into the public ministry as a teacher and then had opportunities to teach and speak beyond that. After a few years with my husband at True North, one of the women who had graduated recently and gotten married sent me a letter that opened my eyes. It was the sweetest, nicest, thank you note ever. And do you know what she thanked me for? My example. The model I set (for her) with my life. As a wife and a young mother and as a pastor's wife (she was married to a seminary student). I was bowled over. Not because she was thanking me. My first thought was -- oh no! -- she was watching me? I tried to think how I had acted in church with my baby, how I had treated her and others. It really made me realize that people watch us -- as women and as Christians. They notice and sometimes they learn. I had more of an impact on her with my life than just with my teaching weekly Bible class.And now I set the same example for my children. Yes, I teach them with my words, but modeling a Christian life makes such a great impact... more than we even know sometimes."
"What do you feel is a threat to a women’s faithfulness at home? How can we be alert against it?"
"As women, we have a tendency to internalize everything. We ponder, but we also stew. When things annoy or irritate, we get that inner monologue going that helps us to justify why we're right and whoever is annoying us, or has offended us, is wrong. The devil is so adept at using that "stewing" to burden us. To harm us. To make us negative, people who can't forgive and "let go" of the offense. And that only serves to hurt ourselves... well, not only. Then it affects our families and husbands. And it leads to other sins. We lose humility and gain arrogance. We model a self-righteousness that our children soon pick up on.
I have struggled with this in the past. It's getting easier to avoid, but then it creeps up on you and all of a sudden you're driving home in traffic and an imaginary conversation is going through your head where you're telling someone off for no good reason.
I found the best way to avoid this pitfall is prayer. I need help leading a strong prayer life to begin with -- not because I don't want to be in prayer but because I don't make it a priority and then forget to make time for it. But if I'm not only praying for my family, friends and those along the way that I find to pray for, but also praying for those who have hurt me or I am struggling to love and forgive. It makes it really difficult to hold a grudge or continue in anger against someone you're praying for. Use that prayer time to not only pray for the person, but yourself, asking the Lord to help you to forgive, move on, and for his hand in blessing your faith through letting it go."
"What bible passage is your personal favorite?"
"Romans 8:28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Often, things happen in our lives that we do not get the privilege to see why they happen; what the purpose for them is in God's ultimate plan is. From early on, I was able to see the "reason" (or at least a positive outcome) of a number of what most people would consider tragedies in my mother's life and mine. This wonderful sight and knowledge has given me a wonderful confidence and strength whenever things do not go the way they "should" or "bad things" occur.
The short version: I have seen how God was with us through the car accident that killed my father and uncle, leaving my mother a 22 year old widow with a 2 year old girl. How he led her (from a strong LCMS family) to meet a man who had been an adult convert to the WELS. How that led them to place me in a WELS grade school, high school and eventually college. Including Calls I dreaded placed me where I needed to be to meet the perfect man for me (also someone I would not have chosen for myself.) :) I really do tear up if I tell the long version."
"I tear up at the short version, Valerie. God has clearly guided your life to glorify Him in weakness and strength. What is next for you and your ministry?"
"Well, my husband recently accepted a Call to Amazing Grace, Milwaukie, Oregon (Portland), we're serving a whole new body of Christians in an entirely new place. I'll still have PWR, but obviously all the joy I have had serving at True North will become a very fond memory. Now I have the exciting adventure of meeting new Christians, joining a new congregation, and finding out how I can best serve there; where my gifts can be best put to use."
"Valerie, thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me! Much has changed in your every day life since I interviewed you but as you mentioned your confidence lies in God’s plan for your family. It has been a privilege to feature you and I know more than one woman will be blessed by your story. All best to you and your family in Oregon as you serve right where God wills."
Read more about Valerie's ministry, Pastors' Wives' Renewal, at her website here.