Is being a pastor’s wife like… a job?

I was recently asked this question by a friend who is not a church attender. She was wondering what my role is as the pastor’s wife. In her experience, watching the church from afar, pastor’s wives didn’t work and were part of the church staff.  She assumed that pastors and their wives were hired as a couple, a “two for one” employment.

At first, I laughed it off and said something like, “Is ‘electrician’s wife’ or ‘banker’s wife’ a job?”  But we know the answer is more complicated than that.

I have been married to a pastor for 12 years and met hundreds of pastor’s wives. The answer is complicated because there is no mold for being a pastor’s wife. There’s no job description. Each woman defines her own role. There is a big variation.

Some women are “called by God.” This is a phrase used to explain a deep sense of purpose or focus. We believe that God calls women and men. Some women are pastors, whether or not their husbands are in the ministry. Some women marry pastors and “take on” the calling of their husbands. These women often are on staff at the church, sometimes are even paid separately than their husbands. Sometimes they preach. Sometimes they have credentials. Sometimes they are “co-pastors.”

On the other end of the spectrum, there are pastor’s wives that are uninvolved in the ministry of their husbands. Perhaps they have their own calling to something else. Perhaps their focus is their family and kids. Perhaps they work an unrelated job. They may not have any responsibility at the church. They may volunteer as a typical church go-er.

Whatever the case, it should not be assumed that if a woman is married to a pastor, they are a “package deal.” I would advise women who are considering marrying a man called into ministry to have open and honest conversations about what their relationship and ministry roles would look like. If you are a part of a church congregation that is getting a new ministry family, please do not assume that the new pastor’s wife will fill the same role as the previous one.

To the pastor’s wives who read this, I want to encourage you! You do not have to fit a mold. You do not have to have a prescribed set of skills. You do not have to be a perfect Christian. You just have to be YOU. And you have to be honest about your role and your expectations with both your husband and your church community.

All the best!


Rediscovering HEALTH after pregnancies.

During my third pregnancy, I had this deep, unexplainable feeling that she would be our final kid.  I have heard from others that I’m not the only one to experience this.  It was a sense of accomplishment, finality, contentment.  I just “knew.”

My season of pregnancy and nursing was coming to an end, and my mindset began to shift.  I began to think about myself, my body, my health.  It sounds slightly selfish, but every mom understands what I’m saying.  We are so selfLESS for so many months or years, giving our bodies to the cause of creating and sustaining tiny humans.  I was thrilled, excited, and even nervous about the idea of having my body to myself, finally.  No more pregnancies. No more c-sections. No more nursing.  I felt a deep sigh of relief, and also a pride for what my body did.  I thanked God for the chance to be used to bring life into the world.

My mindset shifted from “I need to take care of myself for my kids” to “I need to take care of myself for ME.”  You only get one body.  I was scarred from three c-sections, I was carrying about 15-20 pounds of leftover baby weight.  I was wearing clothes that didn’t fit quite right.  It was time for a change in my health.

As I move into this new season, I know there are moms out there who are with me.  I know you’re struggling with your body image.  I know it’s hard.

I don’t have any hard and fast solutions for you.  I am not selling you a workout plan, a pouch of powder to add to your smoothie, or an “accountability group.”  I just hope to share my journey, which is a combination of nutrition, exercise, and faith. And I encourage you: NOW is the time.  You did it.  You birthed and nursed the babies.  NOW you need to find your new groove for your health.  You can do it!


#healthymom #postpartumbody #sahm #nutrition #healthyeating #running

Practical Steps to Starting a Bible Study.

If you are a believer, then continually and consistently studying the Bible is hopefully a part of your daily life.  The Bible is our guide, and our connection to God.  And studying together with other believers is an amazing way to grow in your faith!

Why start a Bible Study?

Start with a purpose. Here are some ideas:

  • I want to grow with other believers
  • I want the consistency of a regular group
  • I want to invite unbelievers to learn about the Bible
  • I want to grow in a particular area or study a particular book of the Bible


Now that you have a “why,” this should make your “who” more obvious. If you want community, invite neighbors. If you want to evangelize, invite unbelievers. If you want to grow with other believers, coordinate with your church and invite your fellow church members.


Really anytime is fine. I’ve seen bible studies be successful at 6am on a Saturday morning, a weeknight, a weekday, a lunch hour. Look at your schedule and you family’s routines. Pick a time you can commit to consistently.

Also, consider the length of the study. People oftentimes will only commit to about 4-8 weeks. If it’s a 3 month study, they may get scared off by the length of time. Ask your bible study prospects what they’d be interested in and then go from there.

Another factor is the frequency. I would suggest one of two options: weekly or every other week. If it’s more frequent than weekly, people wont be able to commit due to schedules. If it is too infrequent, like only once per month, then there is no momentum and people forget what has happened previously.

I think the sweet spot is a weekly study, for 6 weeks at a time, with a two-week break in between studies. However, take into account the timing of holidays and seasons. For example, no one will start a study the week of Christmas. We have found in our community, summer is not a good season to begin something new either. People are busy with vacations and family time. So be aware of your audience and their schedules.


Well, obviously, you want to study the BIBLE! That’s really all you need. Sometimes we complicate it with published studies, video series, promotions, and so on!  You can truly come to the study with ONLY a Bible, and you’ll have plenty to talk about.

You can pick one book of the Bible, and systematically read through it, gleaning as much as you can from each verse along the way.  I’d suggest a book rich in theology and practical application to the believer.  Some great books of the Bible to study this way are Romans, Corinthians, Ruth, Hebrews.  Of course, any and every book of the Bible is valid and worthy of study.

Another option is to use a published study that teaches about a book of the Bible or a topic throughout the Bible.  There is no limit to the kind of studies you can find.  Stop by your local Christian book store if you want to actually flip through studies.  Ask a fellow believer what studies they have enjoyed recently.  Google a topic you’re interested in.  The beauty is that if your study is Bible-focused, you can’t go wrong.  You can always glean some new truth from the Bible.  The bible says that the Word of God is “living and active,” which means that it is always relevant to your life.

Other details:

-Consider location.  Often, people enjoy the coziness of meeting in a home.  But churches are a great meeting place too.  Perhaps your workplace is a good location!

-Consider food.  People love snacks, coffee, treats.  Sometimes this helps break the ice.

-Consider the dynamics of the group.  If possible, it’s always nice to have some strong, seasoned believers mixed in with new believers.  Natural mentoring happens this way!

-Consider age and generations.  You could always do a group of like-aged people (young adult study, 55+ study, etc), but there is something truly beautiful when people of all ages come together to study the Bible.  Be brave in asking people who are not in your age group to join!

-Consider communication.  How will you communicate to the group?  Will you email?  Text?  Use social media?  It’s always good to gather contact information on the first group meeting, in case of changes to schedule or location.

-Consider homework.  Some studies have built in homework, with varying degrees of commitment.  If you’re doing a Bible study with a group of college students who already have tons of school work, you probably want to keep the homework to a minimum.  If you’re doing a study with a group of retirees, perhaps they have more time to commit.  Ask your group and don’t make assumptions!

-Listen to the spirit’s guidance.  As a leader, you may get into conversations that you feel unprepared for.  You may stumble into controversial topics.  Be as prepared as possible, but listen to the nudge from the Spirit.  Enter each group prayerfully!


Go for it!

I encourage you to consider starting a study!  You can do it.  Any person can study the Bible.  That is the beauty of the Word of God.  It’s accessible to ALL.  Push away your doubts and go for it!

I’d love to hear in the comments any studies that you’ve loved, or any other tips you have for those beginning a Bible Study for the first time!


#bible #devotions #biblestudy #believer #wordofGod #church

My Postpartum Whole 30

I had my sweet baby at the end of August and took a full month to just relax and enjoy meals from family and friends, and recover physically. After four weeks of that, my husband suggested that we do a Whole 30 in the month of October to get us back on track. We had done a few rounds before, and knew it was so good for us and our family.

At first, my first reaction was that it would be nearly impossible for me to do in this postpartum stage. I felt like my life is a little bit out of control because I was still adjusting to a newborn.  I was up at all hours of the night, surviving on coffee and food dropped off by family and friends.  The thought of diving into Whole 30 life, with the cooking, shopping, planning felt like way too much for me.

But the more I thought about it, the more it seem like perfect timing. It was a good time to get things back on track and being on maternity leave, I had more time to cook and plan.  Also, weight loss played a factor in our decision to start. I had plateaued after my initial post partum weight loss. And still had a solid 10 pounds of baby weight to lose. The final factor that made me give in and decide to do it was that I was reading the Whole 30 book and it said that it is totally safe for breast-feeding moms to do the Whole 30 and- get this!- it could potentially even help both me and the baby with sleep! I was up for anything that could perhaps give me a few more hours of sleep. So we decided to do it!

We are on day 22 of 30 as I write this, and I have to say it has been the best Whole 30 ever! It has included the initial challenges of doing coffee without creamer, and refusing foods that people offer. But we have found our groove with it.

I love how colorful and fresh my counters look during the Whole 30!

We have some great breakfast options. We have some go-to dinners like Pot Pie Soup and Paleo Meatballs that give us lots of leftovers for lunches.  I also experimented with some homemade Lara Bars that were super yummy and satisfied that snack craving I had occasionally.  And we’re doing it as a team my husband and I and our friend who lives in our basement. So it seems much more doable!

Sweet Potato and Apple Bake!  One of our favorite breakfasts!  Link on my Pinterest board!

It has not been a perfect Whole 30. I gave up that ideal quickly. I have cheated a couple times. Once, when a friend brought me a Caribou Coffee latte and I just could not refuse that indulgence after hours and hours of being up in the middle of the night. Another time I ate a piece of pie that my mother-in-law baked just for us. In those decisions though, I see that one of my issues is feeling like I have to  eat food that people bring me.

If you can resist this, you are a better person than I am!

As for the breastfeeding postpartum aspect, it has been a challenge in a few ways. I always feel hungrier when I’m nursing. So I have to plan for that and I have a Whole 30 approved food that I can eat throughout the day.  I’d grab a handful of almonds and a banana as I settle in to nurse the baby.

And about the sleep during Whole 30 with newborns, I think at first it didn’t make a huge difference, although my baby slept through the night for the first time one week into the Whole 30! That could be a factor of the Whole 30 food, or could be just a factor of her age and timing. But I’ll take it!

Could babies be ANY cuter than when you unwrap them from their swaddle and they stretch?!

One slightly disappointing part has been the weight loss. Confession, I do not follow the Whole 30 rule about not weighing yourself during the month. I weigh myself every single day- it’s just part of my routine and has been since high school. So, I have weighed myself throughout the Whole 30 and at this point I’ve only lost 6 pounds. I was expecting much more based on other Whole 30s I’ve done. Part of that may be the nursing piece, because they see you say you hang onto some weight as a reserve for nursing. We will have to see when we get to the end of the month.

We found that doing the Whole 30 didn’t impede our lives that much, before or after having the baby.  We still carried on our normal lives, just refusing some foods and planning ahead for situations.  For example, we still did our annul apple orchard visit.  We just resisted the caramel and honey, and indulged on crisp, seasonal, fresh-from-the-tree apples!

Apples taste the sweetest when you’re on the Whole 30!

We also found that we could eat out at a few certain places and still be (mostly) Whole 30 complaint.  We went on a post-baby date to the Mall of America, and enjoyed some cheese-and-sour-cream-free Chipotle salads.

Paul loves it when I take pictures of him and our food!  🙂

With every Whole 30 I do, I have taken something away from it.  The first one, I gleaned the realization that dairy really doesn’t do well in my system.  The second one, I kicked the soda (or pop, if you’re from MN!) habit for good.  I don’t even crave it anymore.  This postpartum Whole 30 has taught me not to use my kids as an excuse, and that I really can cook some satisfying meals.  I usually rely on Paul to do most of the cooking because he is infinitely better than me and enjoys it.  But this time, I dove it and tried some very successful recipes!  I pinned my favorites on my Pinterest board.  I even added a new tab to my recipe book for all Whole 30 recipes.  I’m just assuming I’ll need it in the future as I incorporate these new foods and ways of cooking into my normal, everyday life.  Here’s to more healthy eating in the Risdall family’s future!

My old recipe book with a new Whole 30 tab!



Scriptures for labor and delivery ❤️

As I prepared for my third child to be born via c-section, I often found myself awake In then middle of the night, spiraling into worry and anxiety. I had no good reason to worry, since I had two previous healthy children and no health complications with my pregnancy. But as anxiety often happens, it didn’t need a reason to rear it’s ugly head.

As a believer, I know that God does not want us to waste precious time and energy on worry. In those times of fear leading up to my due date, I asked God to give me scriptures to lean on.
He was faithful in bringing verses of encouragement and peace to my mind. I recorded them on my phone and would read and reread them, even in the last moments before my surgery and meeting my baby. They became very precious to me, so I share them here to hopefully pass on some encouragement and promises from the Lord to soon-to-be moms. Keep this list handy, because God can speak to you through these words in your moments of anxiety and fear!
“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬
You can do this. God created your body to hold and grow this baby, and he’s not going to abandon you at the time of delivery. He will be your strength, in a very real sense. You do not have to do this alone.

In my weakness he is strong.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my motherʼs womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:13-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬
God is the creator of life. He knitted your child together, and trusted you to be that child’s mother. He is doing the work, you do not need to worry about his competence. God knows exactly what he wants your child to be like- physical features, personality, every detail. So you can relax that God himself is working inside of you, and he will bring this baby into being.
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬
If you are full of fear, it is not from God. He wants us to live lives of freedom and confidence, unhindered from fear. Labor and delivery- whether natural or c-section- can be a process that carries a lot of fear. But God wants us to have a spirit of power, love, and self-control. Other versions says a “sound mind.” We are not controlled by our fears. Give them to the Lord. Which leads me to the next scripture…
“casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭5:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬
I picture all my worries- what if my baby isn’t healthy, what if I have complications in delivery, what if my baby needs to be in the NICU, and so on. I imagine bundling them up and putting them in a box. Then I picture myself literally “casting” or throwing this box to God. It is a weight off my shoulders. Sometimes I try to take the box back and open it up and worry again. But God says, “No, you gave me your fears, why are you trying to take them back?!”

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭26:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬
That phrase “perfect peace” kept spinning in my head throughout my pregnancy. What would perfect peace look like? The image that came to mind was (ironically) that of a newborn. Babies have no worries. They sleep in perfect peace. God wants us to live in a state of such deep trust in Him that peace naturally flows out of us. Why would we fear? God will take care of us!

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭73:26‬ ‭NIV‬‬
This verse is the foundation of the popular worship lyric that goes “I may be weak, but your spirits strong in me. My flesh may fail, but my God, you never will” (Give Me Faith by Elevation Worship). What a powerful promise. We are imperfect, fallible, weak. But we are not alone, and we don’t need to approach pregnancy and delivery, or motherhood for that matter, in our own strength! God is our strength!
These verse literally changed my life. They switched my focus from my weaknesses to God’s strength. I encourage you to read and perhaps even memorize some of these verses and add to my list with your own verses of encouragement. God’s words are not meant to stay on the page, they are meant to bring life to our circumstances. They are living and active. Let God’s word come into your pregnancy and motherhood, and he will not let you down!

Jesus first this Christmas: Set up a nativity!

Put Jesus first this season.  

The order of things matters. In the Bible, order mattered a lot. The significance of giving your “first fruits” of your labor to God as a tithe is stressed. The firstborn had more status and responsibility. So when it comes to little things like Christmas, I think the order matters too. That’s why we put up our nativity FIRST. Before we pull out the tree, the lights, the presents, the stockings. We set the tone for the season. This holiday is not about the “stuff,” but about the KING!

Our pastor once preached about having the nativity as a central part of your holiday season, and Paul and I went straight out and bought a set that day. It doesn’t matter what kind you get- a table top set, a picture for the wall, a big plastic one for the yard. Just make it a priority in your family!

Make the Christmas story kid-accessible.

There’s something about nativity scenes that draw a child in, and they want to touch, rearrange, and yes, PLAY! So make it accessible for them. That may mean buying a toy nativity, or just letting them touch a fancy one. That may mean rearranging your house to set the nativity somewhere they can touch it.

During the holidays when we were in our old house, we would move a coffee table over to a spot where it could display the nativity. Kayla, my daughter, was always over there, touching the characters, acting out the story, and having fun with it.

Kids need the chance to interact with the story- to pretend, play, act it out. It makes it more real to them. So you may have to let go of your perfect display for the sake of letting your child have some fun with the nativity.

Tell the story.

The last thing I want to mention is that having a nativity out is the perfect chance for you, as the parent, to act out the story with your kids. Take the characters and talk about what part they played in the story. Make it age appropriate, telling more details as they get older.

Kayla is six this year and has asked a few questions about Mary and Joseph like, “Who was Jesus’ real dad- God or Joseph?” and “What are these presents that they wise men brought?” Let your child lead the discussion and present this amazing story to them.

Don’t hesitate to drop in the theology and importance of it. Tell them how amazing it was that God gave his only son to the earth to give us a way back to God. Tell them that Jesus was a real, actual person like us that walked on the earth. And use this season to lead them to the most amazing gift- a personal relationship with Jesus. Moms and dads, this is a fantastic opportunity each holiday season. Don’t let it get shuffled away with the events and excitement of the season. Make it count this year. Put Jesus first.


Never Stop Learning!

Lifelong learner. Are you one?


I always thought of myself as a “life-long learner,” someone who loves to learn and try new things. This summer and fall, however, has tested that saying in my life. I have been forced to try so many new things! It has been so good for me. Part of the motivation comes from moving to a new town, new jobs, and new experiences. Part of it is my own determination to never grow “comfortable” or worse, “stale.” Here is my list of new skills and activities I have learned recently. I hope it encourages you to try something new!


Things I have learned since this summer:

Veggie garden basics

  • Veggie garden basics


I always wanted to have a vegetable garden, but never had a sunny spot at my Lakeville home.  Now, in Delano, I inherited a beautiful garden and got right to work figuring out how to garden.  This one is definitely a work in progress.  But we had a ton of tomatoes this year!  Success!

My first harvest!
  • Basic hair cutting

Yes, I am now one of “those moms” who cuts her kids’ hair.  I just got too annoyed at the $20 price tag for a kid’s cut, even at the bargain salons.  Thanks to a friend who gave me pointers, and a few useful YouTube videos, I have now cut both my girls’ hair for months, and even have given myself a few trims!

  • How to mow and weed whip

This one was born out of necessity.  Paul was on a ten-day missions trip, and I had to mow.  The lawn looked like a jungle.  Now, after several weeks of mowing, I have found that I love it!  Those neat, straight lines in the grass are therapeutic to me.

My first attempt at mowing!
  • Blogging

This one was random.  I lately have enjoyed writing.  It’s like an idea sticks in my head and won’t let go until I put it in print.  I don’t have a real focus yet, or a niche.  I just write about my life.  I do it just for myself.  I didn’t share any blogs for several months of blogging.  I have no expectations for how it will go.  I just enjoy writing!

One of my recent blog posts!
  • Snapchat

Okay, this was not exactly a skill, nor is it very useful. But it’s so fun!  And I have a whole new way to communicate!  Thanks to my young, hip friends for introducing me to this!


And here are a few others that I won’t elaborate on.

  • Basic web design
  • Graphic Design
  • Grilling
  • Refit classes
  • New recipes
  • Mural painting in the church nursery
  • How to use some power tools!
  • 3rd grade curriculum


There is a spiritual component too.  Are you learning from the wise and gaining wisdom?  Are you pursuing a deeper faith?  In Proverbs 1:5 it says,”…let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.”

I hope that I never pursue knowledge and skill over wisdom and discernment.  I have had several opportunities lately to glean wisdom from people in my life.  Those moments with them are priceless.  I spent a few hours listening to “mentor moms” recently at our MOPS group.  I was invited over to coffee with one of the founding members of our church.  I spent the afternoon with a woman who is three generations removed from me, and had the most lovely conversations.

So there is a place to learn new skills and knowledge, but there is also a place to gain wisdom and understanding.  Both are necessary and exciting!

What have you learned recently?  What’s on your list of “to learn next?”


Two ways to study the Bible

When I read the Bible, I find myself reading it two ways, mostly.  I either consume big chunks at a time, reading whole chapters or even complete books of the Bible.  I listen to the whole storyline, imaging the characters, thinking about themes and lessons.  Oftentimes, I actually listen to the words on my Bible App audio bible, not even getting caught up in the reading chapter and verse.  I imagine that someone is telling me the story for the first time, recounting a tale handed down from generation to generation.
Another way I study scripture is much more analytical in nature.  I will take a small chunk of scripture that intrigues me and dive in deep.  I look at the specific words, wondering why the author chose them.  I look up different meanings of the words.  I look at the sentence structure.  I memorize verses that have deep meaning to me, committing them to memory. I ask God to explain it to me in a new way.
Both ways are useful to me, and both have a common purpose. Whenever I open my Bible (or Bible app!), I’m asking God to speak to me.  And He doesn’t let me down.
What ways do you study scripture?

Book Review: Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson

One of my resolutions this year was to be more intentional about reading.  I spent the school year commuting more than an hour to work and back, so I had a lot of drive time.  I decided to use this to listen to books, which became a wonderful part of my day.  I no longer dreaded the quiet rides, or the time flipping between boring radio stations.  I was consuming books like crazy!

One book that stuck out to me was Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson.  Korie is the wife of the Willie Robertson, of Duck Dynasty fame.  I must admit that, although I have laughed through a few of those silly reality shows, I wasn’t a fan.  So it wasn’t her fame that drew me to this book, it was the topic.  She writes about how to raise kids of character.  Now that got my attention.

As a mom of two young girls and an elementary schoolteacher, I have been rolling the idea of character around in my mind for a long time.  I want my kids to have character; that is, I want them to be kind, patient, honest, selfless, compassionate, brave, loving, strong, determined, and all those wonderful traits that we aspire to instill into our kids.  I have seen hundreds of students go through my class and even in the young kindergarten grade, it is evident which kids have been taught some of these basic principles, and which have not.  These traits do not simply just happen.  Kids need specific training and teaching.

Korie writes that when she was a young mom, she went to a Bible study and the topic of the study was character in kids.  She was asked, “If you could pick the most important two character traits to instill into your kids, what would they be?”  After much thought and prayer she settled on “strong” and “kind.”  She poses the question to her readers: “What would be your two traits?”

As I read this book (actually listened to it!), I found myself struggling with this question myself.  There are so many traits I want my children to embody, both as a Christian and as a member of society.  I want my kids to possess ALL of the fruits of the spirit, as listed in Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control.  I want them to be honest and loyal.  I want them to be compassionate and caring.  How in the world could I narrow it down to two?

So I considered my family’s dynamic and the personality of my girls. I thought through situations that I anticipate them encountering.  I still have been wrestling with this question, but I think I have come down to these: brave and compassionate.

They are similar to the two she chose, but different variations.  I think my girls will need to be brave.  They need to be brave to try new things, to stand up for themselves, to have confidence in themselves, and to defend their faith.

I also chose compassionate.  I think compassionate goes beyond kindness, because it is inherently connected to action.  I want my kids to not only feel empathy to those in need, but to do something about it.  Selflessness, another trait I considered, is built into compassion.  You cannot be compassionate and selfish.

The book was totally a breath of fresh air.  I loved it and actually wished it would have been longer!  I encourage you to decide, even if you don’t read this book, what traits are valued in your family.  I will leave you with a beautiful quote from her book.

“After being a parent for twenty years, I have come to believe that the most important thing for parents to decide—more important than bottle or breastfeeding, more important than co-sleeping or sleep training, and even more important than whether to put your child in day care or become a stay-at-home parent—is what values are important to your family and how you will go about instilling those values in your children.”

What are YOU reading now?