Paul Derek and John

Ten years ago this month, we loaded a U-Haul and drove down to Knoxville from the Fort.

We closed on our first house on Tuesday.

Company arrived on Thursday. The best company: Professor Pless, who preached Derek’s ordination sermon. Our wonderful friends and Derek’s boss at the seminary, John and Karen Klinger. Our second set of parents at seminary, John and Ardis Behrendt. And of course, Derek’s parents, always there to support the highs and the lows of our adventures.

On Sunday, Derek was ordained in the longest ordination service ever in the history of ordination services.

(The reason I remember the last part so clearly: Kate was just 2. We’d gone to church in the morning, followed by lunch with our out-of-town family and friends, followed by the ordination, at which we were seated in the front row. I was terrified that our napless toddler would have a major meltdown and I’d start my tenure as the new pastor’s wife doing the Walk of Shame down the long aisle with my screaming kid.

Turns out, Kate was a little angel. But it was a long service because the guys read ALL the ordination verses instead of just a selection of them. That said, they’re all beautiful, so why skip any?)

But what a weekend! What a month! After a big-time false start, we were home. And we’ve stayed. (I think it counts to say we’ve stayed since we’re still in the Knoxville metro area, right? Right? Because if so, this is the longest I’ve lived anywhere, ever. The second-longest is my birthplace, Boise, for seven years.)

Derek was 30 when he was ordained, the same age Jesus started his ministry. I was a mere 28 who, at the time, thought that was plenty old and wise. (Ha!) We only had Kate and no clue how the upcoming arrivals of Sophia and Jonathan would complete our family.

Through these years, Derek has really grown as a pastor. At our two wonderful churches, he’s had a lot of different kinds of experiences. First Lutheran was a fairly large church with a school, so there was a lot of administration as well as multiple teaching opportunities in the school and Bible studies. He came out of there with the ability to wrangle a budget like nobody’s business…which may not sound very pastoral, but if you can be pastoral and a good financial manager, it’s a great bonus. At the risk of bragging, I’d say he’s both. I know I enjoyed turning the budgeting over to him at home, and it’s crazy how he’s practically down-to-the-dollar correct on every category.

At Praise, he does all the preaching and teaching instead of just a portion of it. The 10,000 hours rule really does apply; the longer you do something, the more expert you get at it. The deeper you understand it. The more you can connect with your people and reach them where they are.

And this is not to sound patronizing, where I’m patting him on the head and saying, “You’ve come a long way, honey.” Rather, it’s just the facts: the Fort trains their men well, and when their men come out and work hard at improving their craft, they improve their craft. Of course it’s the Holy Spirit doing all the real work, but it’s nice when the pastor does his part.*

Ten years ago I had no idea what was in store for us, but it’s mostly been a series of delicious surprises and blessings. What will the next decade as a pastor’s family bring? Only the Lord knows, but I’m looking forward to the journey.


*I’m sure none of this is theologically on point, but bear with me. I’m just the wife, not the one with the advanced theological degree.