Before this extremely special Sunday arrived, I already considered myself in the category of: pastor/ministry wife. I would meet with the other two Pastor's wives weekly in the beginning of this church plant, Loren's title was a pastor kind of sort of, but mostly a "coach" or "shepherd" or "chief servant leader." But recently, Mike asked us if he could do the honor of ordaining Loren. All we needed was to set a date and invite his parents.
Ordination: appointing a [very imperfect] man and revealing his calling of shepherd-ship/pastoring in front of the church; extremely honorable and not taken lightly. That is my own personal definition.
Pastor Mike surprised us with a little slide show of his relationship with Loren over the last 6 (?) years. They met at Camp Winema long ago. Loren was Mike's intern the summer before this beautiful church was planted. (Also the summer we met). The church launched in October 2011, Loren went to finish up his BS in Preaching at Boise Bible College, moved back here in June 2012 ready to join the staff as the Youth Coach/Leader + any other ministries we felt urged to start. We were wed in August and the following October we launched our youth ministry! Since that time, a lot has happened. We still lead the youth ministry team, Loren and I both work part time outside of the church, and we live mainly on outside/church support (thank you, Team!!!). Loren has grown, I have grown, we Brenners have seen how terribly much we have to grow, we have grown as a church and as a ministry team. Corvallis Church is radiant and imperfect. Mike wanted to honor the time and sacrifice that Loren so willingly gives for this church; ultimately for Jesus. I don't want to mislead: its all for Jesus. But really, it's more than Loren's decision; we feel called to the mission of Corvallis Church right now. If we weren't here, we don't know where we would be. The only reason we live in Corvallis is for the planting and caring for this church. The thing is: it isn't about us, it isn't us, we live by His strength and the Life that He seems to quite literally breathe into us. I wish I could explain it.
Friends, though I already considered myself a ministry wife, this Sunday something changed - I was hit in the heart on a whole new level. Which, I did not realize was possible.
Just as Loren shared with the church (as I stood aside and cried because my husband has a heart of gold and when he puts words to it, my heart is actually ripped right out out and is being buttered with joy) that morning, this is not a light title. As he spoke and I stood, I was in awe that my life was occurring this way. I didn't plan this out. This is not a label to throw around like "beardy," which is currently Loren's thing. To be given this title of "pastor" is a big deal and we pray to carry it with honor and dignity and compassion and an honest pursuit after Jesus. But my friends, what came this week...this week I was reminded even more of seriously how fickle and misfit I am. I am so completely imperfect, down to my very most personal thoughts, down to my nerves and DNA. I am so dreadfully awful that I do not understand why God Himself would invite me into such an equation as this. He must have some big and glorious renovation plans to be making something out of me, out of us, and I look forward to the day where I can say, "Ohhhh, this makes sense."
Jesus has this way of humbling us. Reminding us how deeply we each need Him and how very present He is, ready to help.
As we met with people this week, invited new friends and already-friends into our home, it was very apparent to me how deeply I need to be altered. Sometimes this mouth has a mind of its own that seems so far away from my real and true heart. Or maybe my real and true heart is quite further away from where I would hope it is. Whatever the case may be, titles are titles. They do not define us, they do not
usually instantly transform us, they do not (de)value us, they are not us. I am me, Natalie. At the end of the day, and during the middle and beginning, I am just another follower of Jesus finding my way on this earth. And Loren is also just another human., so in love with Christ and wants to share Him with the world; despite his very much introverted tendencies.
I am completely, down into my core, honored to be Loren's wife. Not because of his title, but because of his heart & life. Quickly following that honor is the privilege of being in ministry with him, serving and sacrificing to build up the church before our very eyes. Corvallis Church.
The kind of stuff I live for: This week we got to sit down with our Pastoral Team and dream about ways to bless individual families and people during this holiday season. Yes. That's right. We got to spend time praying over the members of our church and plan out ways we may be able to bring them joy, the reminder that Christ is on their team. This is the very best job: bringing joy and peace and best of all Jesus, to others.
And right now, I have the front seat to many lives. I will do my very best to cherish it as a jewel in my crown. Sorry I am so weird and say weird things. But really, I pray I soak this time into my being, learn more than ever, and fall down onto my face because I am confronted with the very real humanity of self. And lean hard into His grace and forgiveness. Also, if you could start praying for our future babies? There is this thing about some Pastors Kids. And I just want to love them so well, I want to teach them Jesus and His saving grace, not religion and rules and laws. Those Littles are in for an adventure.
To any Corvallis Church members who may be reading this: if you have had the honor (chuckle) of practicing your patience with Loren or I, thank you for loving us so well! You get to actually raise us as babies, it seems. I am so grateful to know you; forever this group of people will be close to our hearts - you've grown us Brenners since dating. We are growing up! Almost. Also, a lot of you hold a place in my heart, a place of Heroes.
Note to self:
When Before all else fails, humble myself.