Claudia Barba is one author I know in person. I first knew her sister when we were classmates in college. Her dad was one of my teachers there. I met her mother as well through activities with her sister. Claudia and her husband and son came to our church for a week once when her husband was the keynote speaker for a conference, but I am sorry to say I did not introduce myself to her or get to know her at that time. Some years later her sister, now a pastor’s wife in a neighboring city, invited the ladies of our church to a weekend ladies’ conference where Claudia was the speaker. A few of us went…and I was greatly blessed by her speaking. Her strawberry story (which I am glad to see is in her book) especially convicted and touched me.
Claudia’s husband was a pastor at first, then traveled with his family in evangelism for a few years. Then he and his wife began Press On Ministries, in which they travel to spend a few months at a time helping a church planter get a new church off the ground and stable, and then they travel to another new church plant and do the same. One year our ladies’ group was looking for a speaker for our ladies’ luncheon, and Claudia and her husband were working near enough that I thought it might be a possibility that she could speak for us. A few e-mails and it was all arranged, and Claudia’s message was again a blessing.
Now we live in TN, and the Barba’s home base is close enough that they pop into our church every now and then between ministries. At their last visit, Claudia asked me if I had her new book, and when I said I didn’t, she took my address and sent me a copy – for free, with no expectation or request for a review, but rather just to be nice. 🙂
That book, The Monday Morning Club: You’re Not Alone — Encouragement For Women in Ministry, began with Claudia and her mother and sisters, who were all married to men in the ministry. They would e-mail each other on Monday mornings when they needed a friend to talk to, someone to “share my joys without jealousy and hear my frustrations without judgement” “whether Sundays were thrilling or discouraging.” (p. xiii). Then another friend asked to be included, and eventually it grew into an e-mail list to women all over the world. This book is a compilation of some of these Monday morning thoughts and devotions. Though many of them are aimed at ministry wives in particular, the bulk of them would be applicable to any Christian women. Even those that are specific to pastor’s wives are helpful for the rest of us to read because they give us a window into some of the trials, temptations, thoughts, and feelings a pastor’s wife might wrestle with, and give us a better idea how to pray for and encourage our own.
There are 94 in all, each covering only one to three pages. They could be read one or two at a time straight through, or dipped into at random, or there is a topical index where you can look up columns by need, such as “When you’re discontent,” or “When you’re lonely,” etc.
I love Claudia’s way of writing and speaking. It’s simple, but deep; sweet, but clear. She advises with wisdom and grace. Often she goes straight to my heart.
Here are a few samples:
When a friend thought that “marrying a pastor morphed an ordinary woman into a super saint”: I’m sure in her own mind she was honoring me by placing me on a pedestal. That is, after all, where we place statues of people we admire. But it’s not a comfortable place for a plain old human to live. It’s lonely on a pedestal. Other people think you are looking down on them. There are pigeons. And if you stumble even once, you’ll fall off (p. 5).
The Christlike life has nothing at all to do with satisfying, coddling, or promoting self, but everything to do with being poured out for others (p. 55).
When discussing her husband’s tendency to “jump off cliffs” spiritually in “great leaps of faith” and her own tendency toward security: “The fences I thought meant security were the walls of a prison instead…A fearful spirit is never from the Lord (2 Timothy 1:7). It’s the prison, not the cliff, that’s the scary place. It’s awful to realize that my female anxieties can hinder God’s working through my husband. When His divine leading is clear to my human leader, it’s time for me to stop digging in my heels and join him in bold strides of faith, not because my husband is flawless, but because it’s God’s work we are doing, and He’s the One Who keeps us safe” (p. 123).
Stability is not innate or effortless for most of us female-type humans. Only in Christ is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” He is the solid, immutable Rock of Ages, and He can keep you stable. When your earth quakes, anchor your thoughts to His unchanging promises. When storms roll in, hide in His shadow. When you’re too tired to handle the demands of the day, let Him be the Rock of your strength. When your heart is unsatisfied, let the sweet water flowing from the Rock quench your thirst. Whenever any scary or upsetting thing happens, just run straight to the Rock (p. 153).
Sometimes all that’s needed to heal a wounded soul and lift a sagging spirit is one loving listener, for at its core, listening is love–love that sacrifices its need to be heard in favor of hearing, a desire to lecture in favor of learning, an opportunity to show off in favor of showing compassion. Instead of always leading the way, a patient listener, just by nodding in all the right places, can help a wanderer discover the right path on her own (p. 170).
You can read more samples of Claudia’s writing here in their web site. One of my all-time favorites, “His Dear Wife,” is not in the book but a copy is here. I previously reviewed her Bible study When Christ Was Here.
There is a Kindle version of The Monday Morning Club here. I hope you’ll give it a try. I think it will truly challenge, encourage, and bless you.