So, I feel like a bit of an impostor writing this review.
Lest you think I’ve been keeping some big awesome secret, no we’re not involved in a church plant. And we’re not in church ministry, either.
Regardless, I’m SO grateful to have my friend Christine Hoover’s amazing new book, The Church Planting Wife: Help and Hope for Her Heart.
Grateful because I’ve seen her wisdom, grace, honesty and hard work in real life, and now we have a whole book in our home that’s full of her God-given, hard-fought wise words! Grateful because it overflows with easy-to-understand marriage advice for any woman, not just ministry wives. Grateful because she speaks extensively to friendship in adulthood, dependence on the Lord, and self-forgetting service – areas where I’m always looking for wisdom. (Also? Grateful because this is the first time I’ve gotten to see someone I know personally publish a real-live, traditional, printed book, and that just makes my little nerdy writer-heart so excited!)
Garret and I attend the church here in town where Christine and her husband, Kyle, lead the college ministry for years. Their leadership and service had a huge impact on my personal growth in the Lord in college, and getting to be friends with Christine has been such a gift. We’ve watched and prayed and have been so impressed as they followed the Lord’s leading to church plant.
Their story and now this book have so vividly encouraged me to press on towards obedience to and dependence on God. Christine’s honesty and insights about how our minds and hearts work was helpful and comforting. She offers her own honest stories about hard times in marriage and service that made me think, “wow, I’m not the only one that does that,” but then she also presents biblical truths and practical, grace-filled advice for pointing our hearts back to Christ in those times.
While I don’t have any concept of the unique difficulties that ministry wives and church planting wives face, I found myself learning a lot from this book – how to deal with conflicts in relationships, prioritize commitments, deal with stress, and seek out friends. Chapter 4 covers friendship, and this portion of the book was especially helpful for me. She speaks to how hard friendship can be in ministry, and although I haven’t experienced that, I have experienced how weird and more difficult friendship gets after college. It just takes a lot more work, y’all. And that’s not always fun. On that, Christine writes:
“In a sense, this has become my friendship philosophy: continue on, keep trying, initiate, remain open, persevere. If I cast aside my insecurities and refuse to give up, in due time, friendship will happen. And it has. But I’ve learned that it will never be easy. Friendship will always require my effort.
… If we wait around for it to just happen, it probably won’t. If we expect friendships to be perfect, we will be disappointed. If we search for that one friend who will meet all our friendship needs, we will never have any.”
Christine’s words on service, sacrifice and perseverance in faith also left me marking up every other line, circling page numbers, making notes.
“Like a soldier advancing in battle, we must not dwell in our discouragement or let fear overwhelm us. We must take courage: do the next thing with the power He supplies, take a step forward in faith, keep our minds fixed on Him, and resolve to be unmoved by difficult circumstances or even our own emotions.”
The Church Planting Wife also gave me a little glimpse into the lives of ministry wives and helped me better understand what they need from friendships and service. I highly recommend it, but especially so if you’re mission-minded, in ministry, or in church planting.Disclosure: I was provided an advanced copy of this book. This review is my own thoughts, however.