Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Author's Buffet Welcomes Christy Award Winner Angie Hunt!

Living life through the filter of other people's perceptions is a good way to kill your passion for the very thing you’ve been called to do. Today my awesome friend Angela Elwell Hunt chats on Words to Go from the pastor’s wife’s perspective. Angela has written over a hundred books and has won a Christy Award. Welcome, Angie! I’m so glad you could chat with us today.

ANGIE: Thanks, Patty.

PATTY: A few years ago when ministry life led the Hickmans to Florida I was once again leaving behind friends like my writer’s group led by novelist Gilbert Morris. But then God gave me a wonderful new friendship. Angie and I would pull our heads out of our computers and go for what was supposed to be a quick hour for lunch. But hours later our husbands would be hunting us down, wondering if we had lost our way home. Besides being novelists, we are both also pastor’s wives. It’s a life that many people misunderstand, isn’t it, Angie?

ANGIE: Life as the spouse of a full-time minister is completely what you make it. You can make yourself--and your spouse--happy and fulfilled or miserable and resentful.

PATTY: You’ve known both sides of that coin, haven’t you, Angie?

ANGIE: When we were newlyweds, I wanted to feel that I was a priority in my hubby's life, but I didn't feel that way at home. He was a middle school youth pastor then and now, and during that first year, young girls who had crushes on him would write him notes and call and talk for long periods on the phone . . . hard for me to take. At our wedding, one of the girls said to me, "I hope you know how lucky you are to marry him." I smiled and said I did, but I wanted to reply that he wasn't exactly marrying chopped liver.

PATTY: No, you had come off a national tour as a vocalist—back then a gorgeous tall blonde—not exactly a dowdy pastor’s wife. (I do like the red too, BTW)

ANGIE: I wanted to love the kids, but I found myself resenting them--a lot. And they'd sit on the other side of him in church and cast daggers at me like I was some kind of Other Woman. When I tried to talk to Gary about it, he'd say, "Well, you knew you were marrying a man in ministry."

PATTY: The last thing that ministry couples do is construct the boundaries. Us too.

ANGIE: Finally, I broke down and confided to a friend that I was miserable. That I wouldn't divorce him, but I was resigned to misery for the rest of my life. She promptly told a friend of my husband's, and he confronted hubby and told him that he was "losing his wife."

PATTY: Sometimes they need a little jolt.

ANGIE: It was true. And somehow hearing it from that other person brought my husband to his senses. He learned to set up proper boundaries--no more calls at home. When he was home, he would be HOME. And he found that by "expanding" his ministry beyond the few girls who were so intensely infatuated, he was reaching many, many more students.

PATTY: God expects that of us, that we would erect our ministry to reach out to the ones along the peripheries of life.

ANGIE: And in return, instead of insisting on my "rights," I found myself able to loosen up and let him have even more freedom. It wasn't that I craved his attention 24/7 . . . it was that I wanted to feel that if I needed him, he'd be available for me. That I came first, not before his relationship with God, but before his relationship with everyone else. Once I had that security, I wasn't threatened by the kids, or his time away from home, or the demands of the ministry.

PATTY: I remember feeling as if I’ve was being selfish when I finally asked my hubby to put me ahead of the people in our mission field. Then once he did, things started clicking. God does have an order to things. Our first mission field should be our family.

ANGIE: When people hear that I'm a youth pastor's wife, they usually say, "Oh, boy, I'll bet your house is filled with young people all the time."

PATTY: Is it?

ANGIE: Oh, no. You do have to set boundaries. While we've always been quick to offer our home for meetings, kids who need a place to spend the night, and even kids who needed a place to stay for longer periods of time, I saw how becoming TOO involved tended to shut my own kids down and make them feel uncomfortable in their own home. (Bottom line: We're a family majority of introverts, except for the resident youth pastor.)

PATTY: I’ve seen pastor’s wives who worked feverishly to make their home grand central ministry. It can wear you to a frazzle, even becoming a tool of the enemy to bring you down exhausted and useless to your family or God. I say that as a recovering work-aholic pastor's wife.

ANGIE: I've learned to make home a safe place for the marriage, for our children, for our friends, and for ministry . . . within reason. And the rewards are amazing--some of the kids we've worked with over the years are so dear to me, they're like my own spiritual children. They're grown now, with children of their own, and they'll always be special.

PATTY: Yes, we know children from our past children’s ministry who’ve now grown up to be pastors and missionaries. We’re there to influence them and point them toward Christ. And you and Gary have done a stellar job of that, Angie. Thanks for coming today to Words to Go.

ANGIE: I’ve enjoyed it. And I’m giving away a book too. She’s in a Better Place, my latest release.

PATTY: This is the funeral home setting, some humor—a great read! So leave your feedback and your name goes in the Big Straw Hat for Saturday’s book give. Thanks for coming today and drop in tomorrow for a chat with award-winning novelist Gayle Roper.