When Dave was a youth pastor in Indiana, our then senior pastor went on a sabbatical. He did all of the work necessary to pursue a grant and had the support of our church family. I watched all of this and saw the benefits to it. Our pastor had served faithfully for years and years and the sabbatical was meant to honor his service and also to give him an opportunity to be renewed for the work God had for him to do. He did indeed come back with new excitement and purpose. I knew then that I hoped my husband would have that opportunity if he served at a church for longer than seven years.
When we hit the seven year mark at our current church where my husband now serves as a senior pastor, things were going very well. Our church was growing numerically and there was an excitement among our body for what God was doing in our midst. We were in the middle of a church renovation project. It was a busy time and I didn’t think about the fact that it might be time for our church to consider offering a sabbatical to my husband. It also felt extremely awkward as the pastor’s wife to suggest that my husband might need a sabbatical. Wasn’t that a selfish request?
I know now that it is not selfish at all. Instead, it is wise. The truth is that if a church doesn’t have a sabbatical plan set in place for their pastor(s), it is likely that a pastor will get burned out before a sabbatical is granted. I’ve also learned that a sabbatical should never be used as a punishment. The whole point is to encourage the pastor to rest and to be renewed in their calling. It is meant to be a time to come away and connect with God, but if there is any insecurity about having a job when you return, the sabbatical will not have its desired effect.
Years eight and nine of ministry turned out to be the most difficult years of ministry for us. Without going into detail, I watched as my husband struggled until I realized that I needed to be an advocate for him. While I found this an obvious thing to do for my kids, I somehow felt inhibited as a pastor’s wife. It felt wrong to ask for something that would benefit my husband even though I knew he needed it.
There were days when my husband wanted to leave ministry all together. My prayers were desperate during this time. I knew that God had placed a call on my husband’s life and I knew these feelings were not from Him. And so I begged God to accomplish His will in our church and in my husband’s life. Things got worse before they got better. But through it all, we held tightly to Christ and to the Word of God. We were willing to leave if that was God’s will for us, but the tougher choice was a willingness to stay if that is what God desired.
Ultimately, God kept us where we are. In His goodness and kindness to us, my husband was granted a six week sabbatical that he took soon after our ten year anniversary at our church. For his first week, he just rested at home and worked on a coding project, something that excites him, but that he never has time for. I was still involved with our normal activities, so one day I shared with him a decision that our property team had made. He lovingly told me that he needed to not know these things. He needed to completely disconnect. For me, that was the beginning of understanding what my husband truly needed from sabbatical. He set his emails to auto respond. He turned off notifications. It was a true break from all of the pressures and the trauma of the previous years.
The second week, our family went on a trip of a lifetime to Kauai. In our entire married lives, I have seen my husband relax the most when he is snorkeling and so I wanted him to have this opportunity. For our family to be able to share those memories together was truly incredible. We are so grateful for the support of our church family. It’s what I had hoped for all of those years before as the youth pastor’s wife. God is so kind!
We celebrated Thanksgiving with family which was another gift for us. We have several family members who are in pastoral ministry and the opportunity to encourage one another and spur one another on was exactly what our hearts needed. My husband ended his sabbatical with a week alone at a cabin in the woods. It was the perfect ending to his sabbatical, an unhindered, extended time alone with God.
I have no doubts now that every church should have a sabbatical plan for their pastor(s). Don’t wait until your pastor is falling apart! The week in, week out preaching of the Word, the pressures to be all things to all people (and the corresponding criticisms that come when you inevitably don’t meet all the expectations), and the sorrow and heartbreak that you deal with on a daily basis is a heavy load. If you are a lay person in a church that does not have a sabbatical plan, might I ask you to advocate for your pastor?
We all need times of rest and renewal whether we are in vocational ministry or not. Uninterrupted time with God is part of our growth in Him. We should all seek these times for ourselves, but we should also make sure that others are having and taking those opportunities as well. It’s crucial for pastors and ministry leaders!
It has been two years since our world turned upside down, but for me personally, I can trace the beginnings of upheaval in my life to a couple of years before the global shutdown. It has been a seriously difficult time that has rattled me and shaken me. I’m still trying to gain my footing.
A few years ago, a close friend shared some difficult things with me that shook me to the core. It turned out that my impression of our relationship was vastly different from my friend’s perspective. We had deep held opinions that were in stark contradiction. I was confronted with my people pleasing tendencies and discovered that I couldn’t bear the loss of a friendship I counted as dear. I was devastated.
One night, I was face down on our bedroom floor sobbing when my husband pulled me off the ground and told me I needed to stop. As I look back now, I see this as one of the most loving things that someone has ever done for me. I was completely undone, but my husband would not let me stay there. He spoke truth over my hurting heart. He reminded me to look to Jesus for my security. He told me that I could still love my friend, but not allow their opinions to define me.
That night was pivotal.
I learned to hold tight to what I know to be true. I discovered that it is possible to honor others without capitulating to their criticisms. I realized that I would still be okay even if someone I loved had a poor opinion of me. I found out that I didn’t need to prove myself to anyone; I could in fact allow God to work on my behalf.
These discoveries have changed me. I still care deeply for others and I can’t help loving others with everything that is in me. But my worth is no longer hitched on the opinions of others.
For some of you this may feel like a “duh!” moment. Maybe it should have been obvious, but this took a ton of heart work and soul searching. It still does. I wrestle every single day with letting the criticisms and disappointments I have experienced from others go. But this work prepared me for what was yet to come.
Not long after this heart work began, I was confronted by another heart rending conversation. It was along the same vein, how terrible I was, how I had let others down, how everything had to be about me. But here’s the thing: I had learned that when people criticize me, it’s important to look for the truth, but not accept anything beyond that. And a big clue about truth- if you know that your motivations and intentions do not match with the other person’s perspective, but they refuse to accept that, you can let that thing go. You can still love the other person and know that they are wrong about you.
In God’s goodness, at the same time that this new relationship issue was surfacing, the old one was being resolved and reconciled in a way that only God could have orchestrated. I had not changed my opinions simply to appease and satisfy my friend and now her opinions were softening and shifting. It was a beautiful thing to sit back and watch. It gave me hope in the midst of this new truly devastating time.
When I was a young girl, my parents gave me a sign that had my name and a Bible verse on it to hang on my wall. That verse was 1 Corinthians 15:58. “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” This verse has become my life verse and now I know why. Remaining steadfast during the storms that came as a result of that friendship breach was the only way I made it through. I knew that I couldn’t convince anyone, but I also knew that I needed to hold firmly to what I believed to be true. Be steadfast! Keep being faithful! These were the words I clung to during the darkest days.
My Mom was a rock for me during that time, praying for me, crying with me, reminding me to hold firmly to Jesus. Her maiden name was “Lindsay” and our family has always been proud of our Sottish heritage. The Lindsay family motto is “Endure Fort” which means “Suffer bravely”. After the past several years of deep heartache, this motto holds even deeper meaning. My Mom was there for me through the most difficult months of my life before she went to be at home with Jesus. I was able to tell her before she passed that I believe that the Lord allowed her to stay a little bit longer on this earth because He knew that I needed her. We cried about that too. I know she counted it a privilege to be there for me. She suffered bravely and left a beautiful example for me to follow.
Life is hard. We’ve all faced that reality albeit in different ways these past few years. It’s why we need constants in our lives. The faithfulness of God. The unconditional love of a parent. A spouse who refuses to walk away in our worst moments. Friends who won’t believe lies. Bible verses to cling to. Family mottos that spur us on.
The Lindsay family history can be traced back to the 1100’s, but any family can establish a family motto at any time. I am so thankful for the significance of my family’s motto in my life.
Do you have a family motto or a life verse? How has that significantly impacted your life?
I would love to be able to tell you that there has been resolution and reconciliation in all of my relationships, but that is not true. Yet. But I believe that God can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and so I continue to trust Him to work in my life and in the lives of others for our good and His glory.
It’s been a long time since I’ve written a letter to you, but I think about you every single day. When I read my Bible and want to share a verse with you. When I drink my coffee and eat oatmeal. When a hymn comes to mind or when I hear someone whistle.
Today would have been your birthday. I miss being able to hear your voice, Daddy! I miss being able to make you laugh. I miss wishing you, my January birthday buddy, a happy birthday.
I’m missing you even more this year because the 49ers play the Cowboys on Sunday! I read somewhere that the last time the Niners faced the Cowboys in the playoffs was in 1994. I’m sure we watched that game together (my last playoffs at home!) and you would have had to concede that the 49ers were the better team. I think it’s likely that in 2022, I will have to concede to you. Oh, how I wish we could watch the game together!!
So much of who I am today is because of who you were. You would be so proud of your grandkids, Daddy! They love Jesus and each one serves the Lord in their own way. You would love hearing Lindsay sing praises. Sometimes when I talk with Ethan, I see you in him and it makes me want to weep. He is a deep thinker and has so much wisdom for one so young. Gibson loves reading and I wish he could play Mastermind with you. He would love that and part of me is sad that he will never have that opportunity. Ainsley is pure sunshine. I have no doubt that she would make you smile and keep you laughing. I am so grateful that you were able to meet her. It is a memory I will cherish always.
I love you, Daddy. I miss you, yet knowing that your mind is perfectly whole in the presence of your Savior brings me great joy. Your heart’s cry, “Give me Jesus!”, has been answered fully and beautifully. And so, the ache continues, but so does your legacy. I keep falling more in love with the Word of God. I keep taking walks and looking for the beauty in the sunsets. I keep lifting my eyes to the mountains from where my help comes. I keep drinking coffee and eating oatmeal. I still get a thrill when the coin is tossed, when the chains are moved, when a perfect spiral is thrown, and when the red and gold make it into the end zone. It’s a wonderful life and I am forever grateful to you. You were the best daddy a girl could have hoped for.
Your Becky Buster
Dear Friends and Family,
As 2021 began, we had a growing anticipation in our hearts. It felt like the turning of a page, a new beginning of sorts. 2020 was a particularly difficult year for our family and we were looking forward to a different kind of year.
We didn’t know it then, but 2021 would turn out to be an EPIC year for us! From a trip to the Adirondacks in February to Graduation pictures and graduation for Lindsay, proms for Lindsay and Ethan and Ainsley’s first dance recital, the winter and spring were full of fun and momentous experiences.
The summer was a different one for us! After five years of homeschooling, we are adjusting to not being all together all the time. Lindsay started working at Chick-fil-A and then she and Ethan served at Camp Hickory Hill for six weeks. Gibson and Ainsley both went to camp for a week each, so we also had two weeks in the summer when we only had one kid at home! It was very strange for our family of six, but we made the most of those times. We went on our annual vacation with friends to the Adirondacks to end our summer.
Lindsay is taking a gap year and hoping to go to Moody Bible Institute in the fall of 2022 to major in elementary education. Ethan started his junior year of high school, Gibson his 7th grade year and Ainsley her 3rd grade year. We continue to homeschool the kids and participate in a homeschool co-op, Gloria Deo. Lindsay and I had an AMAZING time visiting Moody in Chicago! Taking her to see “my” school and having her fall in love with it was an experience I will treasure always. Gibson and Ainsley enjoyed playing soccer throughout the fall. We all had fun at our church Trunk-or-Treat event in October.
In early November, Dave began a six week sabbatical. We celebrated ten years at Orchard Community Church in the summer and twenty-four years in ministry this fall, but this was the first sabbatical Dave has had in that time. We were so grateful for this break for him. He was able to have some much needed time to relax and unwind as well as a week by himself at a cabin in the woods, a focused time of study and sermon preparation. As we talked about a vacation for our family during his sabbatical, we made the decision to take the kids on a trip of a lifetime. We spent ten days in Kauai, Hawaii and enjoyed it to the fullest. The stunning beauty, the time of stillness, the opportunity to try new things (an air tour of the island, surfing for my men, ziplining for Lindsay and a river kayak adventure for Ainsley and me), splashing in waves, snorkeling, reading books beachside, coffee and devotions on the lanai, trying fun foods (like shave ice!!) and relaxing in the pool and hot tub at our condo left us in awe of God’s kindness to us. We made memories that will last a lifetime!
After long flights from Kauai to Kansas, we had the immense joy of spending Thanksgiving with family. The weather was gorgeous, a good transition from summer in Hawaii to winter in Rochester, NY! It was bittersweet to be in Kansas and not see my Mom- the first time that has happened for me in ten years. But being able to share laughter and tears and memories with family was a gift.
As this year comes to a close, I am caught in the middle of two extremes; immense gratitude for the blessings 2021 has held for my family and deep sorrow for the losses that so many precious friends are facing. It has been a HARD year for so many and my heart has broken over and over again. But I think that’s why Paul calls us to “rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15, NIV). Life is a always a mix of joy and sorrow, happiness and grief, blessings and losses. More than ever, I am committed to keeping my eyes focused on Christ.
I lift my eyes up, up to the mountains,
where does my help come from?
My help comes from you, Maker of heaven, Creator of the earth.
Oh, how I need you, Lord! You are my only hope, you’re my only prayer.
So I will wait for you, to come and rescue me, come and give me life.” (song based on Psalm 121)
If you find yourself in a time of rejoicing or in a time of mourning (or like me, both!), please know that you are loved. Our Lord delights in you. He sees what you are going through and He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. I hope and pray that you know this love! If you don’t, please ask me about the hope that I have. It’s my favorite subject to talk about!
From our family to yours, Merriest of Christmases and a very Happy New Year!
The Daye Family