The Minister’s Wife – review

Leave a comment

The Minister’s Wife: A Memoir of Faith, Doubt, Friendship, Loneliness, Forgiveness, and More by Karen Stiller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



I first discovered this book when I attended a webinar on writing spiritual memoir hosted by an Ottawa writing group, where the author, Karen Stiller, was the presenter. I was intrigued. Watching a later interview of Karen by Patricia Paddey on YouTube had me downloading a Kindle edition of the book, and I’m so glad I did.

The Minster’s Wife is a beautifully written memoir of Stiller’s spiritual journey, from her introduction to faith in her youth to her current self-admittedly greying years as a still-learning believer and minister’s wife.


I love the humble, self-deprecating tone of Stiller’s faith pilgrimage stories, which are rich in detail and often humorous.

In fourteen chapters organized by topic rather than chronologically, Stiller relates tales of “Identity,” “Doubt,” “Community,” “Envy,” “Forgiveness,” “Holiness,” and more, Stiller gives us glimpses into her pastor’s wife role that is as satisfying and rewarding as it is sometimes frustrating and challenging. Her love for the church, her children, and her husband glows through her candidly confessed imperfections.


I so appreciated Stiller’s lack of bitterness and self-pity, as she described her experiences, both bad and good. Her stories gave me a new appreciation for the role of pastor’s wife. Her style of showing us what happened without over-explaining its significance left room for this reader to mull over the multi-layered learning that happens so often in real life.



The Minister’s Wife is recommended reading for lovers of memoir and for ministers, minister’s wives, and all of us parishioners who love them.




View all my reviews

Art Exhibition

Leave a comment

Art shows are a new experience for me. Applying to have my art included in a show is a lot like getting a writing submission ready for publication or a contest—exciting and a little stressful. And so, a few weeks ago, after completing just such a submission, I was thrilled to have my painting “Persimmon Fall” accepted into the Langley Arts Council “Looking Back, Moving Forward” show.

“Persimmon Fall” – Watercolour on 140 lb. Winsor & Newton, 100% cotton, cold press watercolour paper, 9×12 inches.

It was originally planned as an in-person gallery exhibition, but that had to change because Covid-19 restrictions are still in place.

The virtual show opened on April 2nd and runs to May 12. You can view the exhibition gallery HERE.

Resurrection!

Leave a comment

He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

This is how Christians around the world greet each other on the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, in western Christianity Easter Sunday.

One last duo from Laurel and me, for this special day. I sent her the painting, she wrote the haiku.

“Joy” – by Violet Nesdoly, (100% cotton, hot press watercolor paper, 7×7 inches)

Lily
 
A blossom so pure,
with a voice so full of Life
it speaks, He’s Risen!

Laurel Archer – © 2021, All rights reserved

One of our pastors quoted a Bible verse on our Good Friday service that perfectly goes with this duo:

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” – Hebrews 12:2 NKJV.

Wishing you a BLESSED EASTER!

Lent Conversation — Conclusion

Leave a comment

Here, on Good Friday, the last day of Lent, Laurel and I conclude our Lenten conversation with one more poem and image.

Laurel’s poem prompt, “Quicken,” articulates the restless dissatisfaction and the sense of “dare I hope that things can be different?” characteristic of us in our human state. Those feelings have only been amplified by the strangeness of the past year and its restrictions, imposed because of the pandemic.

Quicken

I’ll bring
my unsettled,
uncentered self, to you.
This week it’s all ‘the holy’ I have.
Emotions scattered,
resolves shattered,
not because of anything,
it’s just well, everything, and
I don’t want it to go back
to the way it was. Not entirely. There.
I said it. Whispered it
our into your silence.

Can this atom of, I don’t know – hope?
be enough for you to split
and quicken me back to life?

© 2021 Laurel Archer – all rights reserved

The word “split” in Laurel’s poem opened the visual door for me. I thought of the way a germinating seed splits to let out new life. But in the process it dies. Yes, that too is part of the gospel message–a part that makes this dark Friday “good.”:

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” – John 12:24 NKJV.

In the end, I opted to portray a bulb instead of a grain of wheat, with a sprout that has just split open its white shroud.

“Hope” – Violet Nesdoly © 2021
Pen and watercolour on 140 lb. watercolour paper, 9×6 inches.

So, Lent is past. But stay tuned. Easter is just around the corner!

A Lent Conversation – Week 6

Leave a comment

We are in the season of feasts—Passover and Easter. Isn’t it wonderful that God instituted landmark feasts—meals of special food filled with the ingredients, tastes, colours, and smells that bring spiritual realities to mind?

As we’ve been reading through the Gospels at our supper table, I was moved a few weeks ago when we came to Mark 14 where Jesus told his disciples to prepare the feast (the Passover) that we now call “The Last Supper.” It made me smile to think of this assorted crew doing kitchen duty. My thought was to create a sort of still life of the supplies for the Passover meal gathered on a counter after a shopping trip. That is the inspiration for “Prepare the Feast.”

Laurel responded to my art prompt by taking it home, literally, with her poem “Do This” about the wonderful meals of remembrance that we’ve all experienced—weighty with spiritual and emotional significance. Because of pandemic restrictions, we’ll miss eating an Easter meal with our loved ones this year. It has made us appreciate such memorable occasions all the more.

A Lent Conversation – Week 5

Leave a comment

Is God involved in the tiniest details of our lives? I think so.

It was Laurel’s turn to start the conversation this week with a poem. When I hadn’t heard from her by last Tuesday, I emailed and asked if she had a poem for the week. It turned out she thought she had sent it, and promptly did.

When I read “Still Life,” I thought immediately that something simple, like a pencil sketch, would suit Laurel’s humble expression of faith. The thing was, I had done a couple of pencil sketches the very night before. The clincher that my sketches were the right response to her poem—she speaks of light in her poem, and one of the things I happened to sketch was a light bulb!  

I challenge you—be on the lookout to notice how God is making His presence known to you in the details of your day!

“Still Life” – poem by Laurel Archer © 2021

Light bulb, staple remover and a jar of shells and floats – sketches by Violet Nesdoly (in 5×8 inch Artist’s Loft Sketchbook) – © 2021

A Lent Conversation – Week 4

Leave a comment

I can hardly believe we’re already into week four of our Lent project. This week I sent Laurel the prompt–a painting I did, inspired by a photo I took on a summer holiday trip we made to Salt Spring Island some years ago.

I love her psalm-like prayer poem in response.

My painting and the Laurel’s poem are below.

Painting: “The Lookout” – Violet Nesdoly – Watercolor on 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper, 9×12 inches © 2021.

Poem: “Open-Air Prayer” – Laurel Archer © 2021

A Lent Conversation – Week 3

Leave a comment

The poem that Laurel sent me as an art prompt for Week 3 made me so happy. I love spring and one of its most compelling signs is the bird symphony and activity we hear and see on our daily walks on Nicomekl Trail, a footpath that follows the Nicomekl River. I love how Laurel pivoted her poem’s friskiness into a theme appropriate for Lent.

I had no problem coming up with an image for this one!

A Lent Conversation – Week 2

Leave a comment

This is the second instalment of a Lenten conversation between Laurel Archer, my poet friend, and me providing some art. This week I sent Laurel a painting as a prompt. She responded with a poem.

The Hellebore plant was new to me when I moved to the coast (we didn’t have it in Saskatchewan, at least not when I lived there). This beautiful perennial blooms here in early to late spring with blooms that customarily face downward. It’s a plant that, even in bloom, looks penitent. Perhaps that’s why it was given its common name “Lenten Rose.”

I’m delighted with Laurel’s poetic response that reflects her experience with this lovely spring flower and takes us deeper.

Painting: “Lenten Rose” – © 2021 by Violet Nesdoly, Watercolour on 140 lb. cold press watercolour paper, 9×12 inches

Poem: “Promises” – © 2021 by Laurel Archer